WARRIORS 109
THUNDER 119
1 Number of career triple doubles for Kevin Durant in his career after tonight’s 25-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist performance

5 Steals by Russell Westbrook, part of nine for the team

22-for-26 Free throw shooting numbers on the night for the Thunder

23 Points for Kevin Martin on 8-for-15 shooting, including 5-for-7 shooting from the three point line

26-12 Advantage the Thunder had in fast break points on the night, where it shot 10-for-11

31 Assists for the Thunder, tying a season high set last game against the New Orleans Hornets

65 Shooting percentage for the Thunder from three point land, where the team shot 13-for-20

68-48 Scoring differential in the Thunder’s favor in the second and third quarters combined

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Kevin Durant whipped the ball towards the baseline as a streaking Kevin Martin made a backdoor cut towards the hoop, then Martin deftly froze two defenders and dropped off a pass to Serge Ibaka for an easy dunk. That was just one example of the Thunder offense at work on Sunday night in its 119-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors, and it was one of many times the Thunder unselfishly moved the ball to score easily.

The Thunder racked up a season-high-tying 31 assists tonight for the second straight game, spearheaded by Kevin Durant’s career-high 10 assists in his first career-triple double and Russell Westbrook’s seven assists. Floor spacing created clear driving and passing lanes for kick-outs, solid screens freed players up and crisp passes found open teammates.

“We’re learning where everybody likes to get the ball and we’re doing a better job of spacing,” Westbrook said. “Everybody made some key passes tonight so it was good…I think it starts defensively. I think when we get stops, it leads us into early offense, early points, transition points, and (drawing) fouls, whatever it may be to lead us and keep us going.”

The precision with which the Thunder operated in the half court was a clear indicator of the team continuing to gel and find creative and efficient ways to score the ball. The Thunder shot 50.6 percent from the field including a blistering 13-for-20 from the three-point stripe thanks to off-ball screens, an effective use of the pick-and-roll and players constantly moving within the flow of the offensive sets called by Head Coach Scott Brooks.

“When we run (offensive sets) hard and we run them with energy and enthusiasm, it always helps the offense,” Brooks said. “The passes were on time and the screens were good. Our unsung heroes are always our bigs. They make our offense go… What makes it go is that those big guys are setting screens every time down court.”

On-ball screens in the pick and roll by Thunder bigs like Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet are critical to finding driving lanes for Westbrook, Durant, Martin or Eric Maynor at the top of the key. Some of the best work the Thunder bigs do is when the offense is inverted, however, and Westbrook or Durant is posted up on the block. By setting back screens for back-door cuts or flare-outs into the corner, the Thunder bigs find openings for the highest percentage shooters on the squad.

“Having Russell in the post and myself in the post, we cause a lot of attention,” Durant said. “Perk does a great job of setting those flares for me, for (Martin), for Thabo (Sefolosha) and for Russ and we just want the guy with the ball to make the correct pass.”

While the Thunder’s execution in the half-court was humming at an effective clip, the team’s primary goal is actually to avoid having to play in the half-court at all –something it accomplished frequently in tonight’s win. The Thunder rolled out to 26 fast break points, shooting 10-for-11 in those transition opportunities, gaining numbers advantages thanks to defensive stops like the five steals Westbrook nabbed tonight.

“We are an athletic team and we pride ourselves on getting stops and running out,” Durant said. “Once we get stops, we have so many guys that can handle and can score in transition we have to take advantage of it.”

The Thunder certainly did take advantage of the opportunities its defense created – particularly in the second quarter when it held the Warriors to 31.6 percent shooting and out-rebounded them by five. Durant had seven of his game-high 13 rebounds in that second quarter, which complemented nine of his points that he tallied in the quarter. Overall, Durant’s 25-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist triple double was a perfect personification of how the Thunder clicked throughout the night.

“I was just trying to make the right basketball play,” Durant said. “My teammates did a great job of opening the lane up for me and making it easier for me to drive and kick.”

Turning Point:
The game turned mid-way through the second quarter when the Thunder held a slim 38-36 advantage with 7:30 remaining in the half. From there, the Thunder burst out to a 12-4 run that broke the game open and gave it a 50-38 lead with 4:04 remaining in the half. Kevin Martin hit a three pointer, Kevin Durant followed suit, then Serge Ibaka got an easy dunk off a beautifully executed set before Martin hit a mid-range jumper and Russell Westbrook added a layup. All five baskets during the sequence were assisted, and the Warriors never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great work by both Westbrook and Durant to work out of the low post, inverting the offense to find scoring opportunities for others. Thabo tip-toes next to the baseline to save a ball in bounds. Great hustle by Thabeet to tip out a loose offensive rebound to give the Thunder another scoring chance.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Perkins plays tough perimeter defense when matched up with Stephen Curry on a switch, forcing a turnover. Thabeet runs up to set the screen forcing his defender to chase, giving Maynor a driving lane to hit Collison with a bounce pass at the dunker spot, which drew a foul. Collison with a wonderful play on the offensive glass to tip the ball to Ibaka for an easy dunk. Amazing athleticism by Thabeet to soar into the passing lane to make a steal.



“I thought offensively we were really good. Moving the basketball, taking care of the basketball and taking great shots on every possession. We had KD’s first triple-double so I was happy, happy for him there… I thought our offense did a good job of moving the basketball, sharing the basketball all night long.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks
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