NEXT GAME: Saturday, May 11th
6-for-9 Derek Fisher’s shooting numbers, which resulted in 19 points on 4-for-5 shooting from three
9 Assists for Kevin Durant, making him one assist shy of his first career Playoffs triple double
23-15 The Thunder’s scoring advantage in the third quarter
24-for-27 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder, good for 88.9 percent
25-18 The Thunder’s advantage in bench points on the night
27 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 12 ties
36 Points for Kevin Durant, a game-high, in addition to a game-high 11 reboundss
May 7th, 2013
As the Thunder found out on Tuesday night, a couple quicker defensive rotations and a few more on-target passes can be the difference between a win and a loss.
In Game Two of its second round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder fell just short, 99-93, because of two main aspects of the game. Self-awareness in terms of what needs to be done and the subsequent execution in how to fix it on the court are two essential steps to improvement as a team. For the Thunder two things to glean from this one are defensive rebounding and turnovers. While the team didn’t perform well in those two areas, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team is confident that it can make the proper adjustments and put itself in position to win on the road.
“We do know one thing – it’s the first team to four,” Brooks said. “We have to go into their building and get a win… It is going to be tough but we know we have to correct some areas that we need to improve on quickly within the next three days. We have time to work on those areas and focus on those areas.”
Despite allowing 23 second chance points on 16 Memphis offensive rebounds and 29 points off of 21 Thunder turnovers, the Thunder still had a one point lead with just under three minutes remaining. The Grizzlies made a 10-0 push in the final two minutes to escape Chesapeake Energy Arena with a victory, but there were plenty of positives to take from this one.
First and foremost was the strong, forceful play of Kevin Durant on both sides of the floor. His 36-point, 11-rebound, 9-assist night was almost his first career triple double. His intensity, activity and determination on both sides of the ball, however, was even more impressive to teammates like Nick Collison.
“He’s been great these whole Playoffs,” Collison said. “He’s really determined to catch the ball in a good spot. He’s setting up all his cuts. He’s doing everything. On the defensive end he’s been really good too. He’s been totally locked in the whole 48 minutes.”
Derek Fisher had 19 points, Serge Ibaka finished with 11 and Reggie Jackson chipped in ten, but even after a night where he registered game-highs in points, rebounds and assists, Durant felt he could do more to help his teammates get involved. As one of the team’s primary ball-handlers, it is up to Durant to help the Thunder get into its sets on offense, while also using his unique size, athleticism and length to create opportunities for himself and others. For Durant, a four-time All-Star, the ceiling has not been set on the breadth and depth of what he’s capable of doing on the floor.
“I always can do more,” Durant said. “I’ll look at film and see my spots and see where I can get my teammates the ball and see how I can get some of these guys going. Always be positive. I’m a leader and guys are looking at me.”
As a leader, Durant and veterans like Collison, Fisher and Kendrick Perkins help the entire locker room understand their role within the Thunder’s scheme and how each man might be able to help the team further the next time out. Fortunately for the self-aware Thunder, the problem spots from tonight’s game are things that can be improved by focusing effort in those areas. Through practice time and film study over the next three days, the Thunder will have a chance to come out in Game Three with a solid game plan and be the aggressor.
“Very fixable,” Jackson said. “We have to nail it down and get back to being gritty, get physical and hit them first in Game Three. No one said it’s going to be an easy series. It’s fun to play in.”
The Thunder led 90-89 after two Kendrick Perkins free throws with 2:41 remaining, but the Grizzlies proceeded to go on a 10-0 run to close out the game before Derek Fisher hit a three-pointer at the buzzer. Mike Conley was the catalyst of the run, hitting a three-pointer then a tough 18-foot jumper. Conley and Zach Randolph combined to make three free throws after that, then Tony Allen made a steal and dunked with 3.2 seconds left to make it 99-90 Grizzlies.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Perfect defensive possession as the Thunder rotated and helped the force a tough shot at the end of the shot clock. Martin and Collison jump into the passing lanes and dive for a loose ball. Good patience by Jackson to wait for Collison to re-set the screen to free him up for a floater. Great fight and hustle on the offensive boards by Thabeet and Ibaka. Martin smartly jumps into the passing lane to make a steal. Solid closeout by Durant to the corner to prevent a three-point shot.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Great tracking on a back-door cut by Jackson to block a shot from behind then force his man to knock it out of bounds. Durant flies back as he hustles in transition to block a sure layup. Martin hustles around the pick-and-roll to swat a shot and save a basket. Slick backdoor cut and a nice bounce pass from Collison for a bucket. Perfect screen by Collison to free up Durant for a three.
“There are things that happened tonight that we can control, that we can do better and improve upon. It’ll be imperative that we spend the next few days not just saying that, but putting some time into how we do it and how we can be effective.” – Guard Derek Fisher