NEXT GAME: Friday, May 3rd
9 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka to go with 14 points
10 Blocks for the Thunder as a team, all of which came in the first half
17-10 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points as it out-rebounded Houston 12-6 on the offensive glass
20 Points for Reggie Jackson in addition to four rebounds and three assists
21-10 The Thunder’s advantage in points off turnovers on the night
36 Points for Kevin Durant, who shot 10-for-15 on two-point attempts
50-34 The Thunder’s advantage in points in the paint tonight
May 1st, 2013
Some nights in the NBA it simply comes down to making tough shots.
Tonight as the Thunder fell 107-100 to the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of its best-of-seven first round Playoff series, the game came down to the fact that Houston made more long-range attempts than the Thunder. Head Coach Scott Brooks has plenty of veteran leaders to help the Thunder maintain poise between these Playoff games, and Derek Fisher is one of those men who understands that the Thunder needs to approach each game the same way, regardless of the outcome of the previous game.
“It’s the same mentality,” Fisher said. “You take the things you can learn from the previous game and you start immediately putting behind you the result of the last game and start preparing for the next one.”
The Rockets hit 14 three-pointers on the night, while the Thunder only shot 41.9 percent from the field and 8-for-33 from the three-point line. Despite the fact that the Thunder dominated in points in the paint and points off turnovers while also won the battle of second chance points, bench points and fast break points, the only number on the box score that matters went against the Thunder. The Rockets shot 47.2 percent on the night, a full four percentage points higher than the Thunder’s regular season average allowed. With that in mind, the Thunder knows it must bring a stronger defensive mentality into Game 6.
“We have to help them miss,” Brooks said. “They are a great shooting team. They play four guards on the floor and they help spread you out. They can get hot and we have to make sure that is not allowed next game.”
The Rockets used a burst right out of the gates to take a brief lead and then a 14-4 spurt that spanned halftime which broke the game open into a double-digit affair. The Thunder was able to keep it close and hang around, eventually cutting the Rockets lead to just six points with 4:17 remaining. Unfortunately Houston was able to knock home late free throws and the Thunder missed shots down the stretch as the Rockets closed out the win.
Heading into the Playoffs, the Thunder knew there would be ups-and-downs, problems to be solved and adverse situations to overcome. As a unit, however, it will work through them in order to find ways to be successful. It will take the entire roster, the coaching staff and everyone in the organization, but through that teamwork, the Thunder will try to close out the series back in Houston on Friday night.
“We have to come out and compete every night the same way regardless of what is going on on the court,” Sefolosha said. “We have to stick together, encourage one another and keep going.”
“Right now when you’re in the middle of some adversity, that’s the time you stick together and stay strong and remain confident in who you are as a team,” Fisher said. “That’s what we need to do.”
The Thunder trailed just 47-43 with 1:14 remaining in the second quarter, but the Rockets used a 14-4 run to push the lead to 61-47 with 9:24 left in the third quarter. It started with a James Harden three-pointer to end the half for Houston and continued with a Chandler Parsons running layup and a Patrick Beverley three-pointer coming out of halftime. Francisco Garcia and James Harden then sandwiched three free throws around another Harden three. During the stretch the Thunder missed four shots and turned it over once.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Strong pick by Perkins up top to get Durant into the paint, where he hit Jackson for a corner three. Nice vision by Perkins to find Durant under the hoop after an offensive rebound. Nice box out by Perkins to secure a defensive board, then good ball movement to free up Jackson for a drive into the paint and draw a foul. Incredible pass by Durant in the fast break to find Ibaka for a dunk. Nice work by Martin to slap away a pass to the baseline. Collison comes over in help defense then knocks the ball off of his opponent. Martin steps in and takes a charge.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Sefolosha doubles down in the paint to make a steal then buries a three on the other end. Perkins battles down low to grab a defensive rebound after a strong box out. Perkins doubles on a pick-and-roll and swipes the ball away. Beautiful ball movement by the Thunder to get Fisher an open three. Ibaka fights on the boards on both ends. Fisher plays staunch defense to defend a drive to the rim. Fisher shows great awareness to slide in and take a charge.
“Tonight we didn’t make some shots. But I trust that we’re going to make those wide open ones. I have faith we’re going to make those shots… We just have to knock them down. We have to continue to just believe in ourselves and have faith and we’ll be fine.” – Forward Kevin Durant