THUNDER 97
MAGIC 89
5 Number of players who scored in double figures for the Thunder on the night

5 Blocked shots by Serge Ibaka in addition to seven defensive rebounds

8 Steals by the Thunder on the night, including three by Kevin Durant

9 Assists by Russell Westbrook, in addition to 19 points and six rebounds

9-for-15 Shooting numbers for Kevin Martin and Nick Collison, who combined for 26 points

11 Blocked shots by the Thunder, including six combined for Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook

13 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka to go with 14 points in another double-double

25 Points for Kevin Durant on the night in addition to eight rebounds
GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
March 22nd, 2013

RECAP:
A team’s ability to grind their way to victories is a characteristic that is essential to winning during all times of the year.

As the season enters the late stretch of March and April, the Thunder showed its ability to execute late on the offensive end while also locking down on the defensive end in its 97-89 road victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club held the Magic to 14 points in the first quarter, 20 in the second and 23 in the fourth quarter while manufacturing points on the other end to get the victory. By forcing five straight misses by the Magic in the final minute and a half, the Thunder closed the game on an 8-1 run to get the win.

“I like the way we started and I liked the way we finished, with a defensive mindset,” Brooks said. “Every possession was intense and focused defensive basketball. Offensively, they were switching and they were moving us around a little bit. I thought the first and fourth quarters were good basketball.”

Every man was key to the win tonight, and while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s combined 44 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds stand out the most, Kevin Martin may have been one of the most essential players on the floor. He went 5-for-10 on the floor and chipped in 15 points, three rebounds and two assists while keeping the Thunder’s side of the scoreboard moving during difficult stretches in the game. By moving without the ball and working effectively with Nick Collison in their two-man game, Martin was able to make an impact in this one.

“He’s moving very well right now,” Brooks said. “He’s knocking down some shots, but his activity on the offensive end is good. We just have to keep working and keep getting better, but I like what he did the last couple of games.”

Thanks to passes and screens from Collison, who finished with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting, Martin gave the Thunder a much-needed offensive spark. On the other end of the floor it was Collison’s post presence, along with Serge Ibaka’s activity and aggressiveness that controlled the game’s tempo. Ibaka had five blocks in addition to his 14-point, 13-rebound double-double. His energy level was extremely high throughout the night, particularly in the way he protected the basket.

“He gave us energy, he gave us game-changing shots and he did that tonight,” Brooks said. “He blocked four or five shots right at the rim. Those are point blank layups. The way he was running offensive, he was finishing offensive boards. He’s only going to get better if he keeps playing with that type of force.”

It was a solid all-around win for the Thunder, which used its experience, athleticism and basketball IQ to make the right plays down the stretch and out-execute a young, scrappy and tough Orlando squad. Regardless of the result, the Thunder will assess the areas of the game it was pleased with and those that need work and immediately turn its attention to its next game. The NBA schedule doesn’t lend itself to time to relax and breathe, so the Thunder approaches each game as it comes.

“We just talk about taking care of business for 82 games,” Brooks said. “You have to focus on the things that are important to you, the good habits that we work on every day. You live with the results. The process is so important. If you focus on wins and losses, sometimes you lose what is more important… That’s how we operate and hopefully we can continue to get better as the season goes on.”

Turning Point:
The Thunder led by only 89-88 with 2:26 remaining in this one, but went on an 8-1 run to end the game behind great free throw shooting. Kevin Durant stayed aggressive and made five-of-six free throws and Russell Westbrook made three-of-four free throws to end the game. On the other end of the floor, Serge Ibaka made a block, Westbrook blocked a shot and the Thunder forced difficult, missed shots before boxing out and rebounding the ball well. The Magic missed five shots and turned the ball over once to end the game.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Perkins pressures his man out top and eventually forces him into a travel. Ibaka is all over the offensive glass tipping rebounds and grabbing them to create extra possessions. Great work on defense in the post by Collison to force a miss. Collison steps into the lane and takes a tough charge. Westbrook hustles and tracks down a loose rebound after a missed Magic free throw. Nice effort on defense by Durant to tip away an entry pass into the hands of Westbrook.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Perkins pressures his man out top and eventually forces him into a travel. Ibaka is all over the offensive glass tipping rebounds and grabbing them to create extra possessions. Great work on defense in the post by Collison to force a miss. Collison steps into the lane and takes a tough charge. Westbrook hustles and tracks down a loose rebound after a missed Magic free throw. Nice effort on defense by Durant to tip away an entry pass into the hands of Westbrook.



“They came into tonight with a good mindset. We got the win and we’re moving onto the next game. It’s always great to be home. We have a great crowd and our guys are always excited about playing in Chesapeake (Energy Arena).” – Head Coach Scott Brooks

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