NEXT GAME: Wednesday, May 15th
9-for-20 Three-point shooting by the Thunder, including 5-for-7 from Kevin Durant
10 Blocked shots by the Thunder, including three from Nick Collison
12-0 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points
14 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka in addition to 17 points and three blocks
20-for-22 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder
27 Points for Kevin Durant, who also had seven assists, seven rebounds, a steal and a block
31-15 The Thunder’s edge in bench points, led by 18 from Kevin Martin
May 13th, 2013
MEMPHIS – The Thunder was sizzling hot in the first quarter, but after a back-and-forth second half the Thunder came up just a play-or-two short in overtime.
Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club jumped all over the Memphis Grizzlies early in Game Four of its second round, best-of-seven Playoff series, but knew that its opponents would make a run on their home floor. Despite the Thunder taking an 11-point lead into the second quarter, Memphis clawed back, eventually winning 103-97 in overtime and taking a 3-1 series lead.
“It was a hard-fought basketball game,” Brooks said. “It’s one of those games that unfortunately you compete as both teams did, somebody has to end up with a loss. I thought our guys did everything they could possibly do to put themselves in position to win this game. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short.”
During the second and third quarters Memphis chipped away at the 17-point lead the Thunder built in the middle of the second quarter, capped by a 9-0 burst that tied the game at 72 late in the third quarter. From there on out, it was anyone’s game, and it seemed destined for overtime. In the fourth quarter alone, there were five ties and nine lead changes.
Behind a finger roll from Kevin Durant, the Thunder tied the game at 94 and then got a crucial defensive stop anchored by terrific one-on-one defense by Kendrick Perkins to force overtime. In the extra period the Thunder shot 1-for-8 while the Grizzlies went 3-for-7 on field goals, which proved to be the crucial difference in this series where all of the games have been decided by six points or less. In fact, the margin has been as narrow as two points inside the last two minutes of all four games.
“Each game has gone down, basically, to a two-minute game,” Brooks said.
There were positives to glean from Game Four, particularly the play of Serge Ibaka who started the game with nine points and seven rebounds in the first quarter, giving the Thunder quite a shot in the arm. For the game he finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds to go with three blocks and some excellent defense.
“I thought Serge did a great job,” Brooks said. “He was making shots, which is what he’s done all year. He still did a lot of things to make them miss… Tonight I’m glad he got rewarded because he works hard and he’s a great effort player who deserves to have success. I thought he came out and made some big shots for us and gave us the early lead with his aggressive play.”
Ibaka was aided of course by Kevin Durant, who had 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. The Thunder also got solid contributions from Kevin Martin, who finished with 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting and Reggie Jackson, who had a game-high eight assists along with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting.
There were some areas, however, where the Thunder can improve heading into Wednesday night’s Game Five. Brooks’ club turned it over 15 times leading to 18 Memphis points, and also allowed 13 offensive rebounds to result in 21 second chance points.
“We have to do a better job.” Brooks said. “That’s it. That’s the bottom line. They made a few extra plays than us.”
As the team immediately turns the page as it returns to Chesapeake Energy Arena, the focus will be to get those areas shored up, while continuing to get a balanced offensive attack. If it is able to put together a full 48 minutes, the Thunder likes its chances to get a win on Wednesday night.
“We have a great opportunity to come back to our home court,” Brooks said. “Hopefully we can continue to play with that same intensity and make some shots like we did tonight and sustain it throughout the game with great energy, great effort and great decisions.”
There were two turning points in this game the first coming in the third quarter when the Grizzlies made its final push to erase what once was a 17-point deficit. The Thunder’s lead had been cut to 72-63 with 4:42 left in the third quarter when the Grizzlies went on a 9-0 run to tie the game, turning it into a nip-and-tuck affair the rest of the way. Marc Gasol started it with an offensive rebound and put back, then Jerryd Bayless made a driving layup plus the foul after another Memphis offensive rebound. Gasol then knocked down a 20-foot jumper and made two free throws to make it 72-72 with 1:46 to go in the third quarter.
The game was truly out of reach for the Thunder, however, late in the overtime period when it trailed 98-97 with 1:34 remaining. After a Serge Ibaka rebound, Reggie Jackson was whistled for a tough offensive foul on a drive to the lane. The Thunder got a stop but Kevin Durant missed a jumper with 46.9 seconds left. After that Gasol knocked down a 15-footer, then Derek Fisher’s in-bounds pass was intercepted by Tony Allen. One Memphis free throw and a missed Durant three-pointer later, and the game was out of reach.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Nice job of battling on the defensive boards by Ibaka and Perkins to force the Grizzlies to knock it out of bounds. Incredible vision by Durant and a sharp cut by Sefolosha to get an easy dunk. Great composure by Perkins to turn out of the high post and find the open Ibaka in the corner. Strong box out by Thabeet to prevent Gasol from getting an offensive rebound. Perfect back-door cut by Martin to get an easy layup off a Collison pass. Wonderful outlet pass by Perkins after a steal.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Ibaka hustles back in transition to save a sure basket and it leads to an advantage situation for the Thunder on offense. Nice pump fake by Perkins to get his man in the air and clear the lane for an easy bucket. Marvelous rebound by Ibaka in traffic that leads to a Jackson run out. Great work by the Thunder to keep their hands in the passing lane and force a difficult shot at the end of the shot clock. Great vision by Durant to find Martin in the corner for a three. Collison stays aware to dive on the floor for a loose ball and save it.
“We knew going into this that we would compete against a team that would compete just as hard… I have faith in the way our guys are competing… It’s the first to four. (Memphis is) in a good position, but our challenge is not impossible. It’s something that we can do, but we have to focus one possession, one game at a time.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks