BLAZERS 80
THUNDER 103
4 Consecutive quarters in which the Thunder held the Wizards to 23-or-fewer points and 36 percent field goal shooting or worse

4 Blocked shots by Serge Ibaka, as the Thunder racked up a combined 17 steals-plus-blocks

8-for-14 Three-point shooting numbers for the Thunder, including 5-for-6 from the starters

9 Different players for the Thunder who recorded at least one of the team’s 20 assists

11 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins on the night

37-for-41 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder tonight, including ten makes each for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook

41-26 Point differential in the Thunder’s favor in bench points on the night

59 Points scored by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin on a combined 27 shot attempts

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
March 27th, 2013

RECAP:
Every man on the squad was locked in and when that’s the case, it’s tough for opponents to get easy looks at the basket.

In the Thunder’s 103-80 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night over the Washington Wizards, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club did exactly that consistently throughout the night. By holding Washington to less than 23 points in each of the four quarters and only 32 percent shooting total on the night, the Thunder was stout once again on defense.

It started with the head of the Wizards’ attack, John Wall, who was forced into a 3-for-18 shooting night by a bevy of Thunder defenders like Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha. After a quick 6-0 run in the second quarter widened the margin, a 9-2 burst in the third quarter ended this one before the fourth quarter even began.

“We wanted to make sure that he did not get in to the paint and get any easy shots early,” Brooks said. “That’s the great luxury to have when we have multiple guys that can guard multiple positions and that’s one of the things that Thabo does well. He can guard any of their perimeter players.”

It was in the pick-and-roll where the Thunder was most effective, as bigs like Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison continually cut off driving lanes. In concert with their guards, the Thunder’s forwards didn’t allow easy drives, passes or shot attempts to Wall or any of the Wizards’ guards all night. If they did get into the lane, Ibaka was there waiting to contest their shot.

“I thought our guards did a great job of putting pressure on the ball,” Perkins said. “I thought they picked them up. We switched it up at times. “Serge set the tone,” Perkins continued. “He’s great at what he does. He was really getting up and altering shots, blocking shots.”

Ibaka finished with four blocks on the night, but altered many more simply by his presence in the lane. On the night the Thunder finished with eight blocks and nine steals, improving its already league-leading steals-plus-blocks per game average. Forcing turnovers and forcing missed shots gives Brooks’ team a chance to get out in the open floor instead of having to in-bound the ball and allow the opponent’s defense to get set. Tonight, because it forced 57 missed shots, the Thunder had plenty of opportunities in transition, where it scored 22 points and distributed the ball to 11 different scorers.

“When you don’t have to take the ball out of the net, you get opportunities to use our athleticism and get out in transition,” Brooks said. “We’re fast. Our first three steps can get down to the half court pretty quick and then we put pressure on the defense.”

It was an exceedingly efficient night on offense for the Thunder thanks to all of those open-court offensive possessions. Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin and Westbrook combined to shoot 15-for-27 for a total of 59 points, while players like Jackson, Collison, Sefolosha, Ibaka and Perkins combined for 34 points of their own.

Martin and Westbrook were especially lights out from the floor, going 11-for-17, including 4-for-5 from the three-point line and 13-for-15 from the free throw line. Durant himself made all ten of his free throws and both of his three-point attempts, as the Thunder shared the ball to be successful yet again.

“Well those guys were making shots,” Durant said. “Me on the other hand, I got to the free throw line. Russ got me some open threes and dunks and K-Mart was really efficient cutting to the rim and making his open shots. We’re going to need that from him and from everybody. I know Serge is going to continue to make shots. It was a really good win.”

Turning Point:
Two mini-spurts broke this game open for the Thunder, helping turn what was a four-point contest late in the second quarter into a 23-point rout. With 3:13 left in the first half, the Wizards cut the Thunder’s lead to 45-41, but a Serge Ibaka free throw, a Russell Westbrook and-one fast break layup and a Kevin Durant fast break dunk quickly turned it into a 51-41 lead for the Thunder with 1:28 remaining.

In the third quarter, the Thunder led by 10 at 64-54, but went on a 9-2 run that extended the lead, which would never again dip below 11, for good. The burst started with a Westbrook three-pointer after a nice hustle play, continued with a Thabo Sefolosha three-pointer and was capped by three Westbrook free throws.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great vision and accuracy by Durant to find Perkins on a bounce pass for a slam dunk. Perkins clears out space and tips in an errant shot. Pretty over-the-top pass from Jackson to Durant for an easy bucket. Beautiful pick-and-pass by Collison as Martin turned the corner and got right to the rim on a back-cut. Jackson back-tips a defensive rebound to Derek Fisher. Nice quickness all around to trap up top then jump the passing lane and get an easy fast break. Solid box out by Fisher to free up Westbrook for a rebound. Westbrook hustles and concentrates to throw an outlet pass to Durant for a dunk.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Beautiful ball movement and a great screen by Perkins to find Sefolosha in the corner for three coming out of halftime. Unselfish drop-off pass by Perkins to find Ibaka for a jumper, then the Thunder gets back in transition defense to force a turnover. Westbrook and Ibaka hustle for a loose ball, which Westbrook tracks down for a corner three. Ibaka boxes out and tips a defensive board to Perkins. Incredibly smooth pick-and-roll on the side from Martin to Collison on a bounce pass for a layup. Great defensive rotations by the Thunder forces a 24-second violation.



“It’s all about defending, it’s all about rebounding and then getting out on the break. The half court (offense) is much improved. We’re third or fourth in field goal percentage. That’s also because our half court (offense) has gotten much better. We know we see the reads quicker and we’re doing a good job of executing – Head Coach Scott Brooks

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