MAVERICKS 105
THUNDER 111
7 Steals by Thunder guards on the night, including three apiece for Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook, and one for Kevin Martin, who also scored 18 points

8 Points by Russell Westbrook in the overtime period, on 3-for-4 shooting

10 Assists for Russell Westbrook to go along with his 16 points, 3 steals and only 2 turnovers. That is Westbrook’s 13th double-double this season.

13 Blocked shots by the Thunder, including five by Serge Ibaka. The Thunder is 8-0 when blocking 10 or more shots

17 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka, tying his season-high. He also had 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting

23 Points off turnovers for the Thunder, 11 more than Dallas. Both teams turned the ball over 13

38-24 Point differential in the Thunder’s favor in the fourth quarter and overtime combined

40 Points for Kevin Durant, making the Thunder 6-0 when Durant scores 35 or more



GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Resiliency is the key to this Thunder team’s personality each night, and that never-say-die attitude was on full display on Thursday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Thunder trailed for most of the game at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but when it came down to crunch time Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club tightened up on defense, made a big run and then sealed the deal in overtime for a thrilling 111-105 victory.

The Thunder held the Mavericks to 10-for-26 shooting in the fourth quarter and overtime, while also forcing five turnovers and scoring 13 points off of them. Part of that charge, particularly in the overtime period, was spearheaded by Russell Westbrook, who made two of his three crucial steals in the final six minutes of play.

“(We wanted to) just go out and be more physical, take on the challenge and play our game,” Westbrook said. “I just try to make an impact on the game. Maybe it’s not scoring. Maybe it’s rebounding, maybe it’s passing or maybe it’s defending, but I just try to make an impact on the game every night.”

Westbrook shook off a tough shooting night to start the game and made an impact when it mattered most. He got into a rhythm by helping others get involved, racking up four assists in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter, then diving in to make a steal with the Thunder up by one with 7.8 seconds remaining. After an off-balance, buzzer-beating three-pointer by Dallas sent the game into overtime, Westbrook took over on the offensive end by scoring eight of the Thunder’s 13 overtime points on 3-for-4 shooting.

“That’s what Russell does, he’s a competitor, he fights,” Brooks said. “I thought his passing and management of the game, making the plays when we needed it and getting into KD’s hands (was great)… I love what he’s about. He competes every time. He’s a big part of why we’re a good team.”

While Westbrook may have given the Thunder that extra energy boost late to wrestle away control of the game and steer the team to victory, it was Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka who guided the Thunder through the first three-and-a-half quarters. Durant scored all 40 of his points in regulation, including a much-needed 13 points in the fourth quarter and 26 total points in the second half. He kept the scoreboard moving for the Thunder as it tried to chip away and get stops on the other end.

His front-court mate, Ibaka, was a man possessed on the glass tonight as the Thunder registered a season-high in rebounds with 56. Ibaka tied a season-high with 17 boards, including eight on the offensive end that helped the Thunder rack up 15 second chance points. When the Mavericks went small, the Thunder played Ibaka at center and he didn’t disappoint, boxing out with great focus and strength, while using his instincts to hustle to the right spot for balls that caromed off the rim on offense.

“(Ibaka) was great on the boards,” Durant said. “One of our points of emphasis going into this game was to beat those guys up on the offensive glass. Him and (Kendrick) Perkins did such a great job and kept so many basketballs alive for us.”

The Thunder’s fifth starter, Thabo Sefolosha also deserves a major helping of credit after this Thunder victory. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard knocked down two big three-pointers and had a crucial put-back layup during the Thunder’s exhilarating fourth quarter run, but it was his defense on the Mavericks’ OJ Mayo throughout the night that was a sight to behold. Sefolosha bodied up on Mayo, allowing him to only take seven shots, and make only one of them.

“(I try to) play physical, not giving him anything,” Sefolosha said. “I think just relying on my teammates and trying to make it tough on him by playing physical.”

Fellow defensive stalwart Nick Collison saw the defensive clinic Sefolosha put on and that duo helped spark the Thunder’s resurgence in the fourth quarter. Collison helped spark the Thunder run by defending the Mavericks’ Darren Collison in what seemed like a little-big mismatch. The Thunder’s Collison denied the Mavericks point guard twice from driving to the lane, forcing a late pass and a contested three-pointer that missed badly.

It was the little things like Collison’s footwork and body angles that helped him succeed on that play. As the Thunder’s most tenured member explained, it was one of the finer aspects of off-ball defense that made Sefolosha such a difficult opponent for Mayo tonight.

“Thabo is, as we all know, is one of the best defenders in the league,” Collison said. “I think what he does really well is he makes the catches difficult. These guys are catching it past the NBA three-point line and they’re being pressured. They’re not catching it in rhythm. Every time, they are having to create something against a really good defender. He’s big to what we do.”

Turning Point:
There were two turning points in this game, the first coming in the fourth quarter, when the Thunder trailed 91-82 with 7:06 remaining. Behind solid defense that forced seven missed shots and three turnovers, the Thunder managed to outscore Dallas 16-4 over a six minute stretch. Kevin Martin knocked down a jumper from Russell Westbrook, then martin hit Kevin Durant for a three-pointer, Westbrook found Durant on a nice transition bounce pass for a dunk plus the foul. After that, Thabo Sefolosha cleaned up a transition miss with a lefty layup, Serge Ibaka knocked down an 18-foot jumper off a Westbrook pass and then Durant helped the Thunder finally take the lead with a right-handed hook shot from the baseline.

“Those are moments that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life to be honest,” Durant said. “It was a tough game. We were battling uphill the whole time. For us to get stops and for the coaches and my teammates to trust in me to kind of put the team on my back and make some offensive plays. For that shot to go in and the crowd is always behind us, it made me feel good. I feel like that kind of pushed us over the top.”

In the overtime period the Thunder trailed by three with just 2:42 remaining, but Head Coach Scott Brooks drew up a great play to get Westbrook a dunk from Sefolosha on a backdoor cut, then an Ibaka block led to a 16-foot jumper by Westbrook that he followed up with a steal and a fast break layup to put the Thunder up by three with 42 seconds remaining.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Perkins and Westbrook trap Darren Collison in the back court, forcing a bad pass and creating a steal for Sefolosha. Perkins playing physical on both ends to block a shot on a drive then track down a loose ball. Great box out by Thabeet to allow Jackson to get the rebound. Sefolosha hustles back in transition to force a travel. Great vision by Perkins to see Sefolosha out of an in-bounds play, then Sefolosha uses nice touch to find Ibaka to draw a foul.

Plays the box score won't show, second half and overtime:
Westbrook smartly fouls on a four-on-one fast break to prevent an easy bucket. Ibaka saves a basket by hustling back and swatting a shot at the rim. Nice pick-and-roll defense by Jackson and Thabeet to prevent a drive, forcing a three-second violation. Collison single-handledly blows up a Mavericks possession by stopping two Darren Collison drives and forcing a difficult shot. Incredible instincts by Westbrook to make the steal to stop a drive. Durant saves a defensive rebound to Westbrook. Beautifully drawn up play by Brooks to get a layup for Westbrook on a backdoor cut. Sefolosha plays incredible one-on-one defense on Mayo, helping force a bad pass that leads to a Westbrook steal and layup.



“That was a heck of a basketball game. Both teams really played with the maximum amount of effort… Give our guys credit. They fought. They battled. They kept challenging Dallas.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks
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