Regular Season Recap - Thunder at Celtics
4 Offensive rebounds for Serge Ibaka, part of a season-high 13 total rebounds
7-for-11 Shooting numbers for Serge Ibaka tonight, along with 3-for-4 shooting from the free throw line
8 Points for Nick Collison on the night, in addition to four rebounds
8 Assists for Russell Westbrook tonight, including five in the first quarter.
12-for-12 Free throw shooting numbers for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined
22 Assists for the Thunder on the night as a whole, including four for Eric Maynor
29 Combined rebounds for Serge Ibaka (13), Kendrick Perkins (9) and Russell Westbrook (7)
55 Combined points for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who had 29 and 26 respectively
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
BOSTON -- One stop, one bounce of the ball or one shot that falls can change the course of a game, which is why the Thunder gives its all on every single possession.
On Friday night against the Boston Celtics the Thunder trailed 101-91 late in the fourth quarter, but grinded out a 7-0 run to cut the lead to only three with two minutes remaining. Unfortunately, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club couldn’t quite get the one more stop that it needed to fully complete the comeback and fell to the Celtics 108-100. The Thunder’s effort, energy and focus was there all night, and those factors put Brooks’ squad right into it in the closing minutes.
“I know our guys, they’re going to keep fighting,” Brooks said. “They’re not going to ever give up. It’s not going to be pretty all the time, but we’re going to play with great effort and they don’t have quit in them. We came within one possession… We got beat by a very good team.”
While Russell Westbrook’s floor general game, marked by five first quarter assists, sparked the Thunder early on as it created a 28-21 lead after the first quarter. The Celtics caught fire from three-point land in the middle quarters, going 9-for-17 throughout the game to take its late ten point lead. In a back-and-forth contest where momentum swung both ways, one constant for the Thunder was the aggressiveness of Serge Ibaka on offense and defense.
“Serge, as we all know, is improving right in front of our eyes,” Brooks said. “He was good on both ends of the floor. That’s what we need. We need him to continue to step up on the offensive end, make shots, roll to the basket when necessary and get rebounds. He’s becoming a very well rounded player for us.”
Ibaka finished with 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting along with 13 rebounds, including four on the offensive end. Ibaka’s ability to finish at the rim and knock down open jumpers was complemented by a beautiful pump-fake, one-dribble free throw line jumper that showed Ibaka’s game is still continuing to grow.
Where Ibaka was most important tonight, however, was on the glass, where his box outs and tenacity on the boards gave the Thunder extra chances and prevented the Celtics from getting more possessions. That attitude and effort impressed teammates like Kevin Durant.
“He’s playing well for us,” Durant said. “He’s going out there and trying to get every rebound and block every shot for us. He’s playing his butt off. Unfortunately it’s tough to get a loss when a guy plays that well, but hopefully we get the same production from him tomorrow against Philly and hopefully we come out on top.”
The way to describe how this Thunder team operates is by using the word consistency. That doesn’t mean the outcome is always the same each day, but that the mentality, commitment and work ethic is the same regardless of what happens on a given night. For players like Durant, it is important the Thunder compartmentalizes and zeroes in on the next task.
“We played hard,” Durant said. “In that fourth we had some tough breaks, tough misses, but we fought. The best thing about this league is we have a game tomorrow… We just have to move past it and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Thunder cut what was a 14-point fourth quarter deficit down to three, trailing 101-98 with 1:56 remaining. It had gotten back into the game, but couldn’t get enough stops and scores down the stretch to complete the comeback. After an extremely close call that went Boston’s way on a deflection out of bounds, Russell Westbrook made a steal and dished to Kevin Durant, whose three-point attempt caused the entire TD Garden crowd to audibly gasp. The shot looked good but just rimmed out, and the Thunder fouled Kevin Garnett on the next possession, where he converted two free throws. The Celtics then got a dagger three-pointer from Jason Terry to push the lead back up to eight with 36.7 seconds remaining, sealing the win.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Strong box out by Thabo Sefolosha to hold off a defender, allowing Kendrick Perkins to get a defensive rebound. Matched up against Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook fronts the post up and does a great job of denying a pass, then draws an offensive foul on Pierce. Beautiful bounce pass from Nick Collison to Kevin Martin on a backdoor cut for an easy layup. Great hustle by Kevin Martin to tip an offensive rebound to Nick Collison.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Wonderful pump fake and head fake by Ibaka, who took a dribble, left his defender flying and hit the jumper. Durant uses his length to knock away a pass and disrupt the drive-and-dish. Collison steps in a does a great job of drawing a charge.
“You have to take this game, learn from it, watch film and move on as quickly as you can. We can’t worry about tonight now. We have a game tomorrow night in Philly, and that’s what we’re going to focus on. We’ve always been a good bounce-back team. There’s no reason for us to stop doing that.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks