NEXT GAME: Monday, May 13th
4 Blocked shots for Serge Ibaka on the night
8-3 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points, as it held Memphis to only three shots after offensive rebounds
23-7 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points, where it shot 10-for-15 and held Memphis to 1-for-5 shooting
25 Points for Kevin Durant in addition to 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals
42 Points for Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin combined
44-30 The Thunder’s advantage in points in the paint tonight
51-44 The amount by which the Thunder out-rebounded Memphis, as it only allowed five offensive rebounds
May 11th, 2013
MEMPHIS – An NBA team can do everything right on a possession, but some nights the shots just don’t fall.
For the Thunder on Saturday afternoon, a great rebounding effort and performance in the paint was negated by a tough final stretch and an uncharacteristic shooting night on the offensive end as it fell 87-81 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Game Three of the second round Playoff series was much like Games One and Two in that it was a defensive struggle characterized by toughness, physicality and intensity. The Thunder only shot 36.4 percent from the field, but held Memphis to just 40.5 percent shooting which helped Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team stay in this one until the very end.
“We put ourselves in this position despite not shooting the ball well because of the defensive end,” Brooks said. “That’s how we’ve always won. That’s what our DNA is made of – defensive toughness.”
A final 6-0 spurt by the Grizzlies helped break an 81-81 tie with 1:34 remaining as the Thunder missed three shots and turned it over once while the Grizzlies knocked down six straight free throw attempts. It seems this series will be one that often comes down to executing in the final minutes. It also seems to be one where the Thunder can control two vital aspects- keeping turnovers low and preventing second chance points- if it plays to its standards.
Led by Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson, who each had point-rebound double-doubles, the Thunder out-rebounded the Grizzlies by seven, outscored them in the paint by 14 and in second chance points by a margin of 8-3. Being physical in the paint is one of the areas the Thunder has focused on all series long so it was good to see the team execute in that area.
“We did a great job,” Ibaka said. “I know when you lose, the good job you did doesn’t count. I’m really proud of my teammates. We did a great job. That was our focus, to keep them off the glass and from getting extra points in the paint.”
One aspect of defensive rebounding that can often get overlooked is the quality of initial defense before the shot even goes up. Tonight the Thunder was forceful in the way it defended, keeping guards like Mike Conley out of the paint and forcing Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to mostly be jump shooters from the perimeter. As a result, in particular thanks to Ibaka’s defense, the Thunder was able to hold Randolph to just eight points on 4-for-12 shooting while also preventing him from getting second chance opportunities.
“I thought Serge has done a good job on him (Randolph),” Brooks said. “Tonight he had one offensive rebound. And that’s quite an accomplishment considering we made them miss 44 shots.”
While the Thunder is disappointed it couldn’t take Game Three in Memphis, it has another opportunity to re-gain home court advantage in the series if it can get a win on Monday night. Brooks’ squad is confident in its gameplan and ability to impact the game in certain areas, in addition to the belief that those open shots that are rattling out will eventually start falling. By playing together, concentrating and maintaining poise, the Thunder will be ready for another fight in Game Four.
“We have to keep playing and keep improving,” Durant said. “We just have to learn from it. We have to embrace the tough times and get better from it. I believe in my teammates. We are going to continue to make the right plays and I’m confident that we are going to make those shots.”
The score was tied at 81-81 with 1:35 remaining after Derek Fisher hit a three-pointer. After a defensive stand where Serge Ibaka hauled in a rebound, Reggie Jackson was called for a charge in transition, then Marc Gasol knocked down two foul shots on the other end. After a missed jumper from Kevin Durant, Mike Conley was fouled and hit two foul shots. After two missed Durant free throws and a missed Derek Fisher three-pointer, Conley hit two more free throws to cap a 6-0 run to close the game.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Good awareness by Ibaka to dive in the passing lane and tip out an entry pass to force a turnover. Strong box out by Perkins to force Gasol off the block. Nice instincts by Durant to jump the passing lane then create a 2-on-1 fast break. Incredible one-on-one defense in the post by Ibaka to force a shot clock violation.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Wonderful post defense by Perkins to force Randolph into a traveling violation. Wonderful job by Sefolosha to chase down Conley through a number of screens. Nice pass fake by Sefolosha to Durant, then a laser of a pass to Ibaka in the post for a layup. Great determination on the defensive glass by Ibaka to draw a foul. Smart by Durant to slap a defensive rebound out to Jackson to start the fast break.
“It was a very hard-fought playoff basketball game. Unfortunately we didn’t come out with the win but I thought our guys competed very hard.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks