T'WOLVES 111
THUNDER 127
9-for-14 Three-point shooting numbers for the Thunder on the night

10 Points for Kendrick Perkins, who held Nikola Pekovic to five points and two rebounds

19 Points for Kevin Martin on 7-for-11 shooting

22-for-22 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder

28 Assists on the night for the Thunder, including four each for Nick Collison and Reggie Jackson

37 Points for Russell Westbrook on 13-for-22 shooting, in addition to nine assists and seven rebounds

41-32 Rebounds advantage for the Thunder, whose starters combined for 34 rebounds

57.8 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night, including 9-for-17 shooting from Kevin Durant

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Feb. 22nd, 2013

RECAP:
A raucous crowd, a physical defense and a devastatingly speedy and efficient offense are staples of a Thunder home victory.

On Friday night, Chesapeake Energy Arena was treated to another one of those wins, as the Thunder defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-11. The win gave Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team 40 total victories on the year and some good momentum to begin its three-game homestand. The Thunder shot a blistering 57.8 percent from the floor, including 9-for-14 from three-point land and 22-for-22 from the free throw line as Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin combined for 83 points. Martin explained that it was Westbrook’s control of the game and Kendrick Perkins’ interior defense that did the job tonight.

“It was a good team win tonight,” Martin said. “I think Perk set the tone with stopping Pekovic on the defensive end and Russ just made sure everybody was involved in the game tonight.”

Westbrook seemed the have the pulse on where every man on the floor was throughout the game en route to his season-high 37 points to go along with nine assists, seven rebounds, a steal and a block. Using electric acceleration in transition and even in the half-court, Westbrook kept the Timberwolves guards on their heels all night. When help came, he dished it off to a teammate. When the help didn’t come, it usually resulted in two quick points at the rim. The tempo with which Westbrook played, seemingly intuiting when to press the gas and when to be patient, was a sight to behold.

“He had nine assists, that’s good basketball,” Brooks said. “The way he scored, he took a lot of good shots and had a high percentage... Russell had a very, very good all-around game.”

The three-time All-Star’s offensive exploits have been well documented, but it’s the other aspects of the game where Westbrook is able to make an impact that make the Thunder an even better squad. He racked up seven of the Thunder’s 41 rebounds as Brooks’ squad out-rebounded the big and burly Timberwolves by nine on the night. The Thunder starters snagged 34 boards all on their own, which helped turn defense into offense for the home team tonight.

“Russell is one of our best rebounders from that guard position,” Brooks said. “Seven defensive rebounds is good. We have to rebound as a team. Our bigs, our perimeter guys and our point guards all have to rebound.”

One of the most fascinating matchups of the night, which occurred in that painted area where all the rebounding happens, was between Perkins and Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic. The 290-pound Montenegrin was coming off a 27-point, 18-rebound performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, but Perkins held him to only five points and two rebounds in 22 minutes of action.

Fellow Thunder big man Nick Collison was impressed by the way Perkins used his strength to get good position early in the possession. The three feet difference between where Pekovic normally likes to catch the ball and where Perkins forced him to was a major factor, which Durant mentioned after the game.

“He did a really great job of pushing him off his spot and making him shoot over a hand,” Durant said. “On the offensive end he did a really good job of keeping basketballs alive for us, passing the ball well and finishing his shots. Perk was great tonight. He really set the tone.”

While the Thunder certainly wants to continue working on its defense going forward, it was a solid overall team effort that helped Brooks’ squad secure a good victory. When the team can force turnovers, create missed shots, box out and snag defensive rebounds, it often ends up in a positive offensive possession the next time down.

On a number of occasions the ball went through the hoop thanks to Westbrook and Durant, who finished with 27 points to complement Westbrook’s 37. Many of the rest came from Martin’s 19 points, which he earned on a cool and efficient 7-for-11 shooting. Many of his opportunities came thanks to Collison, as he and Martin continue to work well in the two man game.

“We had a great chemistry, me and Nick tonight,” Martin said. “He was finding me in open spots. When he does that, we have a pretty good two-man game. Nick made my night easy tonight. With the rest of the team, we shared the ball tonight. I think we had 28 assists. Anytime we give assists like that, we have a pretty good winning percentage.”

Turning Point:
This game turned in the third quarter when the Thunder led 87-79 with 3:19 remaining. By going on a 13-4 run to end the quarter, the Thunder extended its lead to 100-83 and got the necessary punch it needed to close out the victory in the fourth quarter. It started with a Serge Ibaka block that led to a scintillating Russell Westbrook Euro-step layup, then continued with a Kevin Durant to Westbrook fast break layup. Kendrick Perkins made a steal, then Kevin Martin hit back to back jumpers before Perkins finished off a Thabo Sefolosha drive with a monstrous dunk.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Perkins plays perfect post defense and swats a Pekovic turn-around jumper. Perfect screens off the ball by the Thunder to free up an easy pass from Westbrook to Sefolosha for a three. Thabeet sticks with the play and gets a nice tip in by staying active. Great pump fake by Kevin Martin to get his man in the air and get to the rim to draw the foul. Jackson plays disciplined defense to prevent JJ Barea from getting a shot off. Incredible patience by Collison to not dribble under the basket and just to go up with it strong. Perkins sets a strong pick out top to free up Durant for an easy jumper.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Perkins does his work early, bodies up his man and forces a difficult miss by Pekovic. Good foul by Durant to wrap up Kirilenko on the fast break to prevent a layup. Great hustle by Sefolosha and Ibaka to stick with the play and get an offensive rebound and put back. Wonderful helpside defense by Westbrook to come over and knock the ball away along the baseline. Perkins hustles back in transition to stop a fast break, poking the ball away.



“We were able to get some stops and make those guys shoot over hands. We put pressure on them on the offensive end. That’s what we need to do for the rest of the year, continue to just keep playing with our hands on defense and moving the ball on offense.” – Kevin Durant

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