8-for-16 Combined shooting numbers for Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin, who scored a total of 21 points
9 Assists for Russell Westbrook to go with his 24 points and seven rebounds
12 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 10 ties
34 Points for Kevin Durant, including 32 in the final three quarters, plus nine rebounds
37.5 Shooting percentage allowed by the Thunder, including 2-for-21 from the three-point line
47.4 The Thunder’s shooting percentage on the night against the NBA’s best field goal percentage defense
53-31 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder on the night
April 5th, 2013
All season long the Thunder has been tested. As April rolls along, it will continue to take those challenges in stride.
On the second night of a difficult home-road back-to-back, the Thunder did more than take care of business in a 97-75 victory over the Indiana Pacers. By playing stout defense, rebounding the ball and attacking with an unselfish mindset on the offensive end, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club was able to pull away from the physical Pacers. Using a 9-0 burst to start the fourth quarter, the Thunder broke away and shut down Indiana the rest of the way, holding them to a season-low eight points in the fourth quarter.
“I like the fact that our guys came out and played a great defensive team game,” Brooks said. “We just wanted to make sure that they didn’t get a lot of points in the paint or a lot of offensive rebound tip-ins or easy threes.”
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s combined 58 points and the 25-8 point differential in the fourth quarter was certainly key, but perhaps the most influential aspect of the game was the work the Thunder did on the glass. Despite having to deal with big men Roy Hibbert and David West, the Thunder out-rebounded the Pacers 53-31, with eight different Thunder players recording at least four boards. The hustle plays made the difference for the Thunder, despite the fact that the team played an 8:30pm game in Oklahoma City the night before.
“I thought rebounding was the key,” Westbrook said. “Winning all the 50-50 balls and allowing us to get easy points. We’ve matured as a team. We’re doing a good job of playing together at the right time. Mentally we wanted to come out and play the right way. It was important for us to come out and be aggressive. We didn’t want to wait around and see how they were going to play."
Nine of those rebounds fell into the hands of Kevin Durant, who picked his spots after a difficult first quarter. He only registered two points in the opening 12 minutes, but managed to rack up a game-high 34 points on the evening by slashing into the lane, calmly knocking down jumpers and attacking the basket when opportunities presented themselves. A calculated, efficient scorer, Durant simply tried to make the right basketball play throughout the night. Ten different Thunder players scored thanks to Westbrook’s aggressiveness and nine assists, but after that, it was Durant’s turn to take over.
“I just tried to stay patient,” Durant said. “I knew shots would come around and coach would call plays for me. I just tried to come through for my team.”
Above all, tonight’s victory was a sign of a mature, hungry Thunder squad that assessed what aspects of the game would be important, then went out and made plays. There could have been a pile of potential excuses for the Thunder to come out with less than perfect energy or focus. Leaders like Durant and Westbrook, along with veterans Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Martin, however, helped the Thunder play to its strengths and execute its game plan.
“It was a very good win,” Brooks said. “I just like the fact that we came out with a focus and did not let up in any part of the game. Every possession was important. Every player on the court knew that their job was important to have success tonight.”
The Thunder used an 11-0 run that spanned the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter to take control of this game. Starting with a Russell Westbrook pull-up jumper with 38.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the Thunder turned a 70-67 advantage into an 81-67 lead with 8:47 left in the fourth quarter. After the quarter break, Kevin Durant knocked down two free throws, made two straight jumpers then unselfishly hit Kevin Martin in the corner for a three-pointer to complete the run. During that stretch, the Thunder’s defense locked down and forced the Pacers into eight straight missed shots.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Perkins keeps his hands active to knock away a potential back-door pass and prevent an easy opportunity. Great hustle by Ibaka on the offensive glass to retain possession, then knock down a jumper. Perfect vision by Sefolosha to find Westbrook on a broken play in the short corner. Solid post defense by Thabeet to stand his ground and draw an offensive foul. Incredible hustle by Westbrook to jump the passing lane and dive on the floor for a loose ball.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Durant stays active and grabs an offensive rebound in triple threat position to be ready to attack and score at the rim. Incredible concentration by the Thunder to execute out of a jump-ball situation to get a Westbrook drive-and-kick to Sefolosha for three. Westbrook stays with in and anticipates where a loose ball was headed to make a play. Incredible hustle by Perkins and Sefolosha to get back in transition defense. Jackson comes over in helpside defense to make a block.
"Guys just left it all out there on the floor. We played for each other tonight on both ends and that’s a joy to see. We’ve been building this thing for the last few weeks. It’s starting to look good, so we have to keep it up." – Kevin Durant