THUNDER 124
ROCKETS 94
12-0 The Thunder’s record this season when five or more players score in double figures. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison all scored ten or more points

16 Steals by the Thunder, a season-high

16-0 Run by the Thunder to end the second quarter

28 Points for Russell Westbrook, to go with 8 rebounds and 8 assists

30 Margin of victory, the largest by the Thunder on the road this season

32 Points off turnovers for the Thunder on the night, after forcing 24 Rockets turnovers

68 Points for the Thunder in the first half, the most it has scored in any half this season

124 Points for the Thunder, the most it has scored in a game this year

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
HOUSTON – The Thunder and the Houston Rockets were played at a breakneck pace, one that the Rockets try to employ each and every game.

After a quarter and a half, however, the Thunder stepped back and made the correct adjustments to turn the game in its favor. When it was all said and done Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team used a 16-0 run to end the first half to break the game open, buckled down on defense and executed on offense to bring a 124-94 victory back to Oklahoma City.

“We played well and everything was clicking, shots we were moving the ball and playing good defense,” Brooks said. “We do what we do and we just try to do it very efficiently. Both teams are fast and like to get up and down the court and attack.”

It’s the mark of a mature team to not get caught up in an opponent’s tempo or style of play, but rather to assess the situation and find ways to change the game. Led by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who scored 28 and 26 points respectively, the Thunder poured in a season-high in points in a game while still holding the Rockets to under 40 percent shooting from the field. A renewed focus to get back in transition defense and active hands in the passing lane helped turn 24 Rockets turnovers into 32 Thunder points.

“Tonight was one of those nights where we locked down and still scored points at the same time,” Westbrook said.

Westbrook had three of the Thunder’s season-high 16 steals, and the team also added nine blocked shots. The patience and thoughtfulness of this Thunder squad to dictate the style of play and prevent the Rockets from turning it completely into a fast break contest is a sign of a team that is continuing to grow and develop mentally. While all five members of the Thunder squad locked in on each possession, Durant credited Westbrook for leading by example with his pressure on the ball and in pick-and-roll defense.

“We know this team has been playing very, very well as of late and they’ve been scoring a lot of points,” Durant said. “We just wanted to get back on defense and take good shots as well and not turn the ball over. I think our point guard did a really good job of setting the tone.”

While the Thunder shot 47.9 percent from the field, it wasn’t always as easy a season-high 68-point first half would seem. Durant started the proceedings shooting 1-for-8 from the field, but sparked the Thunder’s decisive 16-0 spurt in the second quarter with a three-pointer then a 20-foot jumper. After that start, Durant shot 7-for-10 from the floor.

“I just wanted to get going,” Durant said. “My teammates always believe in me and I believe in myself. I just wanted to come off and shoot a good shot.”

Durant’s offense helped turn the game on its head, but it was Westbrook’s aggressiveness that pushed the Thunder to a 31-point first quarter and 37-point second quarter. He finished with 28 points and eight assists on the night, but he also hauled in eight rebounds. For a point guard, it is Westbrook’s ability to fill the stat sheet and make an impact on multiple levels that is what makes him so dynamic. In particular, it was Westbrook’s rebounding that helped spur the Thunder to a plus-17 mark on the boards.

“(Rebounding) is a big part (of my game),” Westbrook said. “It gives me an opportunity to push the break and on the offensive glass its extra opportunities. It gets me active, it gets me going and it helps me out.”

Turning Point:
The game turned during a decisive 16-0 run by the Thunder to close out the first half. It was 52-50 Thunder with 4:00 remaining in the second quarter when the Thunder forced five turnovers and five missed shots in a row to put a stamp on the defensive effort that held Houston to 37 percent shooting in the second quarter. On the offensive end, Kevin Durant got it going with a three-pointer and a 20-foot jumper, then three free throws. Thabo Sefolosha finished off a fast break with a layup then Westbrook and Durant finished off the half with a layup and a three-pointer respectively, both coming off assists. By the time the half ended, the Thunder led 68-50 and were never threatened the rest of the way.

“The end of that second quarter, that last three or four minutes is what pushed us over the top and that third quarter was really good as well,” Durant said.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great hustle by Durant to get back in transition defense to both knock the ball away and hit it out off a Rocket player. Collison steps in and takes a charge on a drive by using his feet to get good position. Sefolosha smartly and physically fronts the post to make a steal. Smart foul by Sefolosha to stop a drive in the closing seconds of the first quarter. Incredible rotations by the team then great anticipation by Sefolosha to jump the passing lane for a steal and a layup.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Nice hustle by the Thunder on the perimeter to start the fast break and then fill the lanes as Sefolosah picked up a loose ball for a layup. Great multiple efforts down low by Perkins to block two shots on one possession. Great vision and unselfishness by Perkins to see Ibaka just outside the block on a diagonal pass for a layup and the foul. Wonderful anticipation by Martin to get back on defense and intercept an outlet pass. Pretty cross-court, one-handed pass from Martin to Sefolosha for a jumper.



“(It was) just being in our shell. I think we did a great job of playing team defense and doing what we do as a team… We know personally that we need to come out every night and defend. We’re at that point now.” – Russell Westbrook
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