8-for-10 Kevin Martin’s shooting numbers tonight, as he scored 23 points in only 19 minutes
9 Assists for Russell Westbrook, who also had 18 points and three rebounds
10 Number of blocks and also the number of steals for the Thunder on the night
30 Assists for the Thunder as a team, one shy of tying a season-high
31 Points for Kevin Durant on 10-for-16 shooting, plus 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals
46-39 The Thunder’s rebounding advantage, as it held Golden State to only seven offensive rebounds
50.6 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night, including 44.4 percent from three-point range
April 11th, 2013
OAKLAND – It wasn’t always perfect in execution, but it was as close as you can get in terms of effort and mentality.
The Thunder took care of business for 48 minutes on Thursday night on the road against the Golden State Warriors, winning 116-97 behind an unselfish offensive performance and a disruptive one on the defensive end. Behind a combined 20 blocks and steals (10 apiece) and 30 assists, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club seemed to be playing not as individuals, but as a unit connected by spacing, timing and communication.
“I loved the team effort; everything was about the team,” Brooks said. “We were just playing good defense… Offensively we were moving the ball.”
It didn’t matter to the Thunder who scored, who got the rebound or who was credited with the assist during tonight’s game, which was broken open by a 12-2 run ending the second quarter and beginning the third quarter. All-Star forward Kevin Durant played with a palpable, confident assertiveness from the very beginning of the game, paving the way to 31 points on only 16 shots, in addition to 10 rebounds and eight assists. In all aspects of the game, Durant made an impact, which helped the entire team succeed.
“I just tried to come out tonight with a different edge and lead my team in a different way,” Durant said. “I just wanted to stay locked in and be focused. Luckily my teammates got me going early and I was able to hit a few shots. I just tried to play as hard as I can for every minute that I was on the floor.”
With Durant, it’s not a matter of whether he decides to be a scorer, a facilitator or anything in between. He simply plays the game- taking shots when he’s open, creating advantage situations and then finding the right teammate in the right spot when necessary. Fortunately for Durant, he has teammates all around him who can capitalize on those chances. Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha combined for 50 points tonight on 18-for-29 shooting, getting many opportunities thanks to 17 combined assists from Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“A lot of guys do their job and have a role,” Brooks said. “Everybody wants to do their role at a high level every night and consistently they want to do it. That’s what makes us a good team. Hopefully we continue to build on those good habits.”
Martin in particular was effective in going 8-for-10 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point land. He was able to step into perimeter shots both in the flow of the half-court offense and in transition. In addition, he was able to get some rhythm shots at the free throw line and even threw down a monster two-handed put-back dunk.
With 23 points in only 19 minutes of action, Martin was just displaying the type of efficiency he’s been known for this season and his performance was a personification of the free-flowing, unselfish nature with which the Thunder played all night.
“Just getting in a flow and being aggressive,” Martin said. “This is a shooter’s arena so coming off the Utah game I felt like I could get into a rhythm a bit more coming into tonight’s game.”
“Everybody was feeling good tonight,” Durant added. “We trusted in everybody which was great. We were clicking on all cylinders tonight. Russell came out aggressive. Serge was big tonight. Everybody chipped in and that’s what we need heading into the Playoffs.”
The Warriors made it a three-point ball game in the closing seconds of the first half, but the Thunder made a big shot to end the half and followed it up with a third quarter burst. It was 57-54 Thunder when Kevin Durant got the ball with under ten seconds remaining in the half, drove and calmly kicked to the corner to Thabo Sefolosha for a buzzer-beating three pointer. Out of halftime, Russell Westbrook set up Kendrick Perkins for a layup, Westbrook hit a free throw and then Sefolosha hit back-to-back three pointers. With 9:57 remaining in the third quarter it was 69-56 Thunder, who used that 12-2 burst to break the game open. Golden State would never get closer than nine the rest of the way.
“I think the confidence was high early in the game,” Sefolosha said. “We stuck with our principles, did a good job of being focused defensively. I think they had some tough shots and on the other side we were able to move the ball and knock some shots down.”
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Perkins sets a solid screen to free up Durant for a jumper, then stays wide in the lane to force a tough missed shot on the defensive end. Quick hands by Westbrook and Sefolosha to slap the ball away and start a fast break. Westbrook hustles to follow his own miss and grab an offensive rebound. Ibaka dives on the floor, hustling for a loose ball. Collison tips an offensive board to himself multiple times to retrieve it.
Plays the box score won't show:
Wonderful screen off the ball by Thabeet to free up Sefolosha in the corner for a three. Thabeet stands his ground in post defense then rises up to swat a shot. Westbrook quickly adjusts on defense to block a shot from behind and force a jump ball. Great work by Sefolosha to fight through a screen and slap the ball away when closing out on a shooter. Collison boxes out and tips out a defensive rebound to Durant.
“We always play with effort. Many things I’m proud of with our guys, that’s one of the main things. They play every night. They love to play, and you can tell. They play together, they play hard.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks