SUNS96
THUNDER114
5 Turnovers for the Thunder, a season low and a Thunder all-time low

6 Assists for Reggie Jackson, plus six points on 3-for-3 shooting

9 Rebounds for Nick Collison in addition to 10 points

9 Assists for Russell Westbrook, plus 24 points and 7 rebounds

15-6 Advantage in fast break points for the Thunder

17 Points off turnovers for the Thunder, compared to only four for Phoenix

30 Points for Kevin Durant, including 26 in the final three quarters

30-18 Scoring differential in the Thunder's favor in the fourth quarter

50-34 Points in the paint advantage for the Thunder



GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Each man on the Thunder roster is ready and able when his number is called, and on New Year’s Eve against the Phoenix Suns, that came in handy.

A full team effort sprung Head Coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder club to a 114-96 victory, as the team got healthy contributions from Nick Collison who had 10 points and nine rebounds, Thabo Sefolosha who chipped in 14 points and of course the triumvirate of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who combined for 70 points. When Russell Westbrook had to briefly hit the locker room to get stitches above his eye, guard Reggie Jackson filled in and helped the Thunder use a 12-0 burst to break open the game.

“I thought that was a good team win,” Brooks said. “A lot of guys did a lot of good things offensively. We were able to score the ball and take care of the basketball.”

It was a one-point game at halftime, and even after a big Thunder run to start the third quarter, the Suns clawed back into it to make it a two-point affair. The Thunder buckled down in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Suns by 12 while holding them to only 38.9 percent shooting in the final frame. The Thunder forced four of 15 Suns turnovers in the fourth quarter on its way to 17 total points off turnovers for the game.

“I think we did a good job of just stopping them and being aggressive,” Westbrook said. “We were just having a good time defending and I think that was the best thing.”

On the other end of the floor the Thunder did its best work since arriving in Oklahoma City at protecting the ball. With only five turnovers throughout the night, the Thunder was smart and crisp with its dribbling and passing, getting one another involved and finding the best available shot. Westbrook led the charge in yet another one of his near-triple-double nights as he ripped off 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds while turning the ball over only one time. It’s Westbrook’s ability to impact the game on virtually every level that makes him such a vital part of the Thunder’s all-around attack.

“I just play hard,” Westbrook said. “There may be nights where our bigs have a handful with other guys bigs, and my job is to get the loose rebounds. That’s what I try to do.”

Westbrook and his teammates helped one another find their offensive groove, as the Thunder moved to 13-0 when five-or-more players score in double figures, which occurred once again tonight. Kevin Durant heated up after the first quarter, scoring 26 points in the final three frames to help seal the victory.

The Thunder got an extra boost, however, from Jackson, who started the third quarter while Westbrook was being attended to by the team doctors. Jackson finished with six points on 3-for-3 shooting, six assists, four rebounds and only one turnover, in addition to a game changing swipe-and-dish to Thabo Sefolosha for an emphatic fast break jam that helped the Thunder gain some big momentum to close out the game.

“He just was composed, he came out and made the right plays, played great defense,” Durant said. “I thought one of the turning points in the game is when he got that steal on Dragic and threw it to Thabo for the dunk. That got our crowd into the game and then right after that, Russell came out and it was just a great spurt for us.”

Turning Point:
The Thunder started the second half leading only by one, but with Reggie Jackson starting the half in place of Russell Westbrook who was getting stitches above his right eye, the Thunder went on a 12-0 run. It started with a turnaround jumper by Kevin Durant, then a well-executed play resulting in a Jackson layup from a Perkins pass. Thabo Sefolosha then hit a layup, Durant drove baseline for a dunk then Jackson set up Ibaka for a short jumper and Sefolosha for a fast break dunk after a steal. The Thunder forced two turnovers and five straight missed shots by the Suns to start the half. The Suns pulled to within two, but the tide was turned by that initial run.

“It was just energy,” Durant said. “We were moving the basketball so well. Everybody was touching it and we got good shots.”

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Westbrook stays with it after a missed shot and steals the ball away from Gortat underneath the basket, then hits a floater. Sefolosha keeps the play alive with his length, tipping a loose ball to himself to give himself a chance at a three pointer. Durant hustles by jumping on the floor for a loose ball, saving possession and preventing a run-out. Beautiful drive and dis by Martin to get Ibaka for a corner three. Martin with an incredible heads up play to tap away a loose ball and knock down a three pointer. Collison slides over with perfect body control to draw a charge.

Plays the box score won't show, second half and overtime:
Great job by Ibaka to hold the ball high above his head after a defensive rebound, preventing anyone from swiping it away. Jackson with a big steal out front, then he drops it off to Sefolosha for a slam dunk. Wonderful team defense by the Thunder forces a shot-clock violation. Wonderful vision by Westbrook to spot Ibaka in the short corner after taking a pass on a backdoor cut, that Ibaka finished with good touch on a floater. Great anticipation by Thabeet to slide over from the weakside and swat a shot.



“Offensively when we move the ball with great spacing and we don’t turn the ball over we usually put ourselves in a position to score. But defensively that’s what we talk about and pride ourselves on.” – – Head Coach Scott Brooks