THUNDER 117
MAVERICKS 114
10-0 The Thunder’s record when Kevin Durant scores 35+ points. He had 52 tonight

14 Rebounds by Serge Ibaka, including seven on the offensive end, in addition to 11 points

21-21 Free-throw shooting numbers for Kevin Durant, the second most without a miss in NBA history

25-11 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points, which came off a season-high-tying 18 offensive rebounds

31 Points for Russell Westbrook, who also had six assists and six rebounds

33-for-36 Free throw shooting numbers for the entire Thunder team

52 Points for Kevin Durant, a career-high. He also had nine rebounds and hit five three-pointers

53 Rebounds for the Thunder on the night, seven more than the Mavericks



GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
DALLAS -- When it comes down to crunch time and every second of every possession is critical, the Thunder looks within for strength.

In a hard-fought overtime battle with the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night that featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes, the Thunder made just enough plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor to put the ball in the bucket and prevent the Mavericks from executing. With Russell Westbrook’s steady hand at the helm and Kevin Durant working on his man from the wing, the Thunder was able to find the bottom of the net a few more times than Dallas, earning a 117-114 victory thanks to experience and guts.

“We’re a team that has been in so many different situations we kind of find a way to get our way through it,” Westbrook said. “We were just trying to get the best shot possible, get a shot every time down the floor (and) take care of the basketball.”

Westbrook continually fed Durant the ball at the right elbow as he curled off of down screens set by teammates like Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins. Durant notched his career-high in points with 52 on the night, including four clutch ones in the closing minute on mid-range jumpers that sealed the Thunder victory. Durant’s big night helped the Thunder move to 10-0 when he scores 35-or-more points this season. Even though he didn’t finish with his best shooting night from the floor (13-for-31), but he showed the requisite mental toughness to shake off misses and move on to the next play.

“I just kept fighting and kept believing in myself,” Durant said. “My teammates gave me confidence. It’s more about the win for me. I was excited at the way we played… We just kept fighting and we got a good win on the road.”

Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club may have been led from the front by Durant’s 52 and Russell Westbrook’s 31 points, six assists and six rebounds, but it was the little things that helped the Thunder win as well. By grabbing a season-high-tying 18 offensive rebounds, the Thunder converted 10-of-17 opportunities into 25 second chance points. Serge Ibaka snatched seven of his 14 rebounds on the offensive end, but also tapped out multiple others to teammates for extra possessions.

“(Ibaka’s) been great on the offensive boards,” Durant said. “That’s the reason why he’s leading us in rebounding. He keeps so many basketballs alive for us. He was big in that overtime… He’s been playing well for us all season. He’s going to continue to keep getting rebounds and keeping balls alive for us on the offensive glass.”

Between winning the war on the boards by a plus-seven margin and getting enough defensive stops, particularly late, to stop the Mavericks, the Thunder was able to overcome a tough shooting night. By locking in and buckling down, guards like Westbrook and Sefolosha teamed up with Perkins to force Dirk Nowitzki into a 5-for-19 shooting night and OJ Mayo into a 6-for-16 shooting performance. The foundation of this Thunder team is its defense, and it proved that tonight in Dallas.

“We won the game shooting 41 percent because we got key stops when we needed them,” Brooks said. “Sometimes when your shot doesn’t fall, you have to find a way to attack the basket and will yourself to get opportunities.”

The other area where the Thunder focused on the details was at the free throw line, an area in which the team has excelled all season. Coming into the game as the league’s best team on free throws, the Thunder hit 33-of-36 attempts, spearheaded by Durant’s outstanding 21-for-21 effort that ranks second best in NBA regular season history behind Dominique Wilkins’ 23-for-23 night at the line. By staying aggressive and attacking the paint, the Thunder was able to keep the scoreboard moving even when its shots weren’t falling.

“(Durant) did that tonight and got opportunities at the free throw line,” Brooks said. “He’s an amazing player and he deserves everything that he has earned. And I like the fact that he’s focused on doing the little things to help us win.”

Turning Point:
The Thunder trailed 110-107 in overtime with 3:15 remaining when it closed the game on a game-sealing 10-4 run. Russell Westbrook started off the comeback with a tough mid-range jumper from the wing, then the Thunder’s defense forced a turnover. After Serge Ibaka slapped an offensive rebound back out to the top of the key, Thabo Sefolosha found Kevin Durant on the wing for a three-pointer to help the Thunder take a two-point lead. The Mavericks hit a three-pointer, but Durant hit two consecutive mid-range jumpers to give the Thunder a 116-114 lead with 16.5 seconds left, then the Thunder defense held for two more stops to get the win.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Tough finish by Westbrook at the rim through contact, using his right hand on the left side of the basket to avoid a blocked shot. Sefolosha uses his length and athleticism to deny an entry pass and make a steal. Ibaka hustles back in transition defense to swat a shot into the second row, preventing a potential three-point play. Beautiful two-man game between Sefolosha and Collison on the pick and roll, leading to a Collison jumper. Good show of lower body strength by Collison to stand his ground and force Nowitzki into a travel. Incredible defensive play by Martin to hustle back in transition defense and draw a charge.

Plays the box score won't show, second half and overtime:
Good use of his hands by Durant to slap away an entry pass that results in a Perkins steal. Collison anticipates where the missed shot is going and turns it into an alley-oop layup. Great job of scrambling on defense by Westbrook to tip the ball away. Incredible awareness by Ibaka and Westbrook to tip out consecutive offensive rebounds to teammates. Nice job by Liggins to front the post and knock away an entry pass. Liggins jumps the passing lane then saves the ball in-bounds to Durant.



“I’m just proud of the way they competed… It was a good game, one of those games that nobody deserved to lose. I’m glad we came out with the victory because that’s not an easy win.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks
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