8 Lead changes in the game in addition to 11 ties
9 Assists for Russell Westbrook, in addition to 18 points
9-for-9 Free throw shooting for Kevin Durant, making him 19-for-19 in the past two games
10 Blocked shots for the Thunder, including five by Serge Ibaka
11 Rebounds by Serge Ibaka, in addition to 10 points
36 Points for Kevin Durant, plus seven rebounds and three assists
45.6 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night
March 29th, 2013
Regardless of the outcome, the Thunder can pick at least one aspect of each game to improve upon.
On Friday night, the Thunder dropped a road game to the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-93 and identified a few areas where it can make adjustments for tomorrow night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. On the first night of a back-to-back, the Thunder got off to a hot start but went cold from the field and allowed more points from the field than it would prefer in the second and third quarters as Minnesota made 44.6 percent from the field and 22-for-27 from the free throw line. Overall, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club knows it will be better the next time out.
“I don’t think we did a great job of executing on either end of the floor tonight,” Brooks said. “We have a level where we want to play every night. Sometimes we don’t get to that level and tonight was one of those nights where we didn’t get to that level.”
The Timberwolves had five players score in double figures and snagged 13 offensive rebounds that led to 21 second chance points. Despite 36 points from Kevin Durant on 13-for-19 shooting and double-digit scoring from Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder was unable to knock down enough shots and make enough stops on the defensive end in order to maintain an early seven-point lead. The extra opportunities for Minnesota were the difference in the game and making sure to box out and snag rebounds will be on the agenda for the Thunder tomorrow night.
“We gave up too many offensive rebounds,” Brooks said. “We’ll try to correct. We have to figure out that part of our defense, and we need to finish that defense up with a rebound.”
Self-awareness has been a staple of the Thunder’s identity, and the ability to identify areas of concern and address them with practices, shoot-arounds and film sessions is a part of the process Brooks’ club uses to get better every night. Led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, along with veterans like Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison, the Thunder understands that defensive rebounding is a part of the game where it must dedicated more attention to each night.
“We have to finish the defense with a rebound,” Brooks said. “We have to do that. We work too hard. I thought tonight we had a chance to get some of those rebounds and we didn’t come up with them. Those are things we take pride in. Our guys have been good all year.”
The Thunder trailed 84-81 with 9:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Timberwolves went on a 6-0 run to break the game open. Nikola Pekovic started things with a layup, then Dante Cunningham hit a jumper off a JJ Barea pass before Cunningham made another bucket. The Thunder then trailed 90-81 with 5:58 left. During the stretch, the Thunder missed five straight shots and two turnovers.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great helpside rotation by the Thunder defense to get into the lane and force Nikola Pekovic into a miss. Perfect spacing by Sefolosha on the wing to receive a pass from Westbrook on a drive-and-dish. Nice interior passing from Collison to Thabeet for a dunk. Thabeet does a nice job of slapping an offensive rebound back out to a teammate. Solid help defense from Collison to stop penetration and force a tough miss. Smooth passing from Westbrook and a nice backdoor cut by Durant for the dunk.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Great hustle by Ibaka to snag an offensive rebound then calmly put it back. Unselfish ball movement on the perimeter leads to a Sefolosha three-pointer from the wing. Strong box out by Collison to grab a defensive rebound and give the Thunder possession back. Ibaka and Durant scrap and claw for a loose ball on the defensive end to get possession.
“Give them credit, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to play. In this league you have to look at the next game as quickly as you can. We’ll learn from it, watch some film tomorrow then worry about the Bucks tomorrow night.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks