Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Nuggets

NUGGETS 118

THUNDER 124
2-0 The Thunder's record in overtime this season

8 Offensive rebounds for Serge Ibaka, part of his 15 rebound performance

8-for-12 3-point shooting numbers combined for Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka

9 Assists by Russell Westbrook on the night, the Thunder finished with 20

11 Blocks by Serge Ibaka, becoming the first NBA player since 1996-97 to have three 10+ blocks games in a season

40 Points by Russell Westbrook, three short of his career-high

48.9 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night, including 64% shooting from Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka combined

51 Points by Kevin Durant, his career-high

The Thunder will host the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night for the second night of a home back-to-back. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then gets one day off before hosting another home back-to-back, as the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers come to town on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Sometimes the sport of basketball rewards its fans with a game that is so competitive, so well-played and so hotly-contested that words can barely describe the emotions that were poured into it by the players and taken from it by the fans, and vice-a-versa. Tonight against the Denver Nuggets, Thunder fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena experienced one of those rare and special nights that will become a part of basketball history. Whether it was Kevin Durant scoring a career-high 51 points alongside his teammate Russell Westbrook's 40-point showing or Serge Ibaka's triple-double, there were incredible performances that marked the Thunder's 124-118 overtime victory. In fact, it was the first game in NBA history in which three teammates recorded 50 points, 40 points and a triple-double respectively. On top of that, the Thunder showed remarkable heart, tenacity and resilience in order to get the win.

"This is probably an understatement- that was a heck of a game," Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "As a player, those are the games you like to play and be involved in. The fans were terrific. I though the fans gave us the spark that we needed throughout the game... We gave everything we had."

Trailing by as many as 14 points during the game and down five with less than a minute remaining, the Thunder pulled itself up and made key plays when necessary to win the game. Durant's clutch 3-pointer and driving dunk to force an extra five minutes were just as critical as James Harden's defense on Andre Miller to force a turnover late in overtime. Both moments rivaled Westbrook's cool-and-collected 15-foot jump-shot off a Harden dish to effectively seal the game. Thanks to Durant and Westbrook's scoring barrage and Ibaka's block and rebound party, Harden could only say, "It doesn't get any better than that." In fact, both Durant and Westbrook agreed that Ibaka's triple-double, which was the first in franchise history to include blocked shots, was the most impressive aspect of the night.

“I think you need to be tough mentally,” Ibaka said. “This is my job. This is the way I can do something to help my team. When you have a team with guards like Kevin who can score 51 points, and the other one (Westbrook) can score 40 points, you need to try to bring something different.”

The 22-year old Congolese forward certainly brought a much-needed toughness to the game, wrestling in 15 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end which helped lead to 22 Thunder second chance points. In addition Ibaka finished with 14 points and 11 blocks to round out his triple-double. The 11 blocks are a career-high and it marks the third time this season Ibaka has had double digit blocks, making him the first player to accomplish that feat since Shawn Bradley did it in the 1996-97 season. For Durant, it was quite the spectacle throughout the night. From a beautiful shake-and-bake turn-around jumpshot in the lane to his incredible accuracy from the 3-point stripe (he was 5-for-5 at one point), he was a game-changer throughout the night.

"Serge and Kevin have been doing such a great job for us all year," Westbrook said. "He (Ibaka) is getting double-digit blocks and tonight he did a good job of knocking down shots and rebounding. Kevin was just Kevin. He is one of the best scorers in the game and he has done a great job since he has been here."

Durant and Westbrook set an all-time franchise record by recording a combined 91 points, and they are the first set of teammates to score 50 and 40 points respectively in a game since Kiki Vandeweghe (51 points) and Alex English (47 points) accomplished the feat in 1983 for the Denver Nuggets. In addition, the two 23-year olds are the first duo to each score 40 or more points in a game for the same team since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen did it in 1996 for the Chicago Bulls. After the game, however, both guys downplayed the significance of their own nights, and said they were more impressed with their teammates' performances and the overall effort of the entire Thunder squad.

"It feels better to get the win," Durant said when asked about his scoring night. "The way we came back and the shots that we made in the fourth quarter feel better. However, 51 points feels cool. As a kid, it is something you dream about... People will talk about me getting 50, but Russell Westbrook carried us in overtime and it feels good to get the win.

TURNING POINT:
There were two turning points in this game, the first spanning halftime when the Thunder erased a 13-point deficit and turned it into its largest lead of the evening in an eight-minute time span. Trailing 58-45 with 1:11 left in the first half, the Thunder embarked on a 20-0 run that was jumpstarted by steals by Kevin Durant and James Harden that led to eight unanswered points to end the half. Coming out the break Russell Westbrook and Durant combined to score 12 straight points to build a 65-58 lead with 8:04 left in the third quarter. The game featured seven ties and nine lead changes, but this pivotal stretch got the Thunder back in the ball game.

While a 5-0 run in the last 43 seconds of regulation that featured a Durant 3-pointer and driving dunk was definitely a pivotal moment and it saved the Thunder from a potenital loss, but the final turning point came with 1:51 left in overtime when the Thunder clung to a precarious 1-point lead at 116-115. Durant was able to get to the free throw line and knock down two shots, then Harden and Durant forced Andre Miller into two turnovers that ended in a Durant layup to give the Thunder a 120-115 lead with 57.1 seconds left. The Nuggets hit a 3-pointer to bring it to two, but Harden sliced into the lane and found a cutting Westbrook for a 15-foot jump shot to seal the victory.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Tough rebounding underneath from Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Durant to bring down a defensive board... Great awareness by Durant to grab the defensive board and kick it to a leaking Daequan Cook for a layup... Durant using his length to hit baseline fall-away jumpers... Tight defense by Durant on Corey Brewer to force an air ball... Tough defense by Perkins forces another air ball, then Westbrook finds Durant for a 3-pointer... Serge Ibaka follows that up with a big time swat... Quick hands by James Harden to knock the ball off of Brewers knee and out of bounds... Great contesting at the rim by Ibaka who cleaned it up with a defensive rebound and a tip out on the offensive glass that leads to a Westbrook three-point play... Westbrook and ibaka share a nice smile after an extra pass by Serge gets knocked out of bounds... Durant follows that sequence up with a 3-pointer from Shawnee and then Westbrook brings the house down with a two-handed slam... Good vision by Westbrook to find Collison on a drive-and-dish to draw two foul shots... A spectacular play by Nazr Mohammed to catch a Reggie Jackson miss and put it in the hoop... Tough defensive board by Royal Ivey, who lobbed one to Mohammed for a lay-in... Athletic block by Ibaka to kick-start a fast break... Great defensive rotations by the Thunder and a good job to stay on the floor amid pump fakes by James Harden to force a shot clock violation... Durant recognizing a mis-match by backing down Andre Miller for a jumper... Beautiful outlet pass from Harden after an Ibaka block to Westbrook for a dunk... Great hands by Ibaka to receive a quick Westbrook pass on a drive for a dunk... Quick hands on defense by Durant to deflect a ball out of bounds off of Brewer... Good patience by Westbrook, Durant and Harden to trade passes and get into the lane to draw a foul... Nice anticipation by Durant to knock away an alley-oop attempt which led to a Westbrook run-out.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice hustle from Cook and Ibaka to grab a loose ball... Incredible presence by Ibaka inside to block one shot, then contest another and grab the defensive rebound, Perksin then finds a cutting Westbrook for a layup and a mid-range jumper... Great rotations on the defensive end to force two missed 3-pointers, then a beautiful alley-oop from Westbrook to Durant... Then a big block by Ibaka and a wonderful cross-court, transition bounce pass from Westbrook to Durant for another dunk... Good hustle from Westbrook to get back in transition and force some errant passes and a Denver turnover... A well-thought out move by Durant to pivot dribble twice to shake his defender and fall away for a jumper... Nice defensive instincts from Jackson to strip the ball away and draw a foul... Toughness by Collison to tap an offensive rebound to Ivey, then solid defense by Jackson to draw a charge... Nice extra pass from Westbrook to Harden, then a tough offensive board by Ibaka to draw a foul... Ibaka cleans things on both ends of the floor by following up a Durant miss with a put back then getting back ini transition for a block... Perfect box out by Cook, then good hustle by Durant on a Westbrook miss on the run out... Ibaka being a man on both ends of the court, closing in on a triple double... Smart foul by Cook to prevent a layup... Incredible offensive rebound and put-back by Ibaka, who gets his 10th block of the game for a triple-double... Huge offensive rebound by Westbrook to find Durant for a 3-pointer... Solid defense by Westbrook to force a miss and give the Thunder a chance with 7 seconds remaining... Durant races to the basket for a dunk to tie it!... Westbrook lock-down defense forces a Lawson miss and overtime.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, OVERTIME:
Clutch 3-pointer that boucned around the cylinder for Westbrook... Tough defense by Durant and ibaka to get a steal... Good job of contesting by Harden and Ibaka to force a travel... Good rapport between Westbrook and Durant to give one another the ball in the right spots to be effective down the stretch... Durant makes up for a quick shot by getting a steal on the other end and finishing with a layup... Incredible unselfishness by Harden to drive the lane and make the extra pass to Westbrook to hit a mid-range jumper... A final block for Ibaka to stop a layup... Great defense by Cook to seal the victory with a steal.