Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Magic
9 Different players who scored for the Thunder tonight
10 Assists for Russell Westbrook on the night. The Thunder had 19 total assists
11 Rebounds by Kendrick Perkins on the evening
15 Points allowed by the Thunder from the start of the fourth quarter until 11 seconds left in the game
29 Points by Russell Westbrook, who finished the game with a sprained left ankle
35-21 Point differential in the fourth quarter in favor of the Thunder
38 Points scored by Kevin Durant, including 18 in the fourth quarter
51.4 The Thunder's shooting percentage, including 44.4% from 3-point land
The Thunder will finish its road trip on Saturday when it plays the Hawks in Atlanta. Game time is 6 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.
The Thunder then returns home for five consecutive home games, starting on Monday when it hosts the Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder then takes on the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday before hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday and the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
Trailing the Orlando Magic by as many as 14 points during the contest and by 11 heading into the final 12 minutes, the Thunder put together an impressive fourth quarter that wrestled control of the game away from the Magic and its crowd. The Thunder grabbed a 105-102 road victory on the second night of a back-to-back thanks to a scintillating performance by Kevin Durant, who scored 18 of his 38 points in the final quarter in addition to a gritty 29-point, 10-rebound performance by Russell Westbrook and the defensive tenacity and intensity led by Kendrick Perkins.
"We fight every game, every possession," Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "That's one of the strengths of our team, we never give up. Even when things aren't going well, we still hang in there and stick together. That's what good basketball teams do and I'm proud of our guys. ... Perk is one of the best defensive bigs in basketball, and I love the way he plays and competes. It's never about stats, it's never about himself. It's always about our team and you can never get enough guys like that on your team. And we have a team full of them."
Playing with five fouls for the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, not only did Perkins not foul out of the game, but he held Dwight Howard to only seven points and even swatted away one of his shots down low. Perkins' focus and determination was palpable, and it was clear that one of the Thunder's veteran leaders was going to infuse the Thunder with energy and the stamina to claw back into the game. The Thunder is full of competitors, and Perkins' fire wouldn't allow Oklahoma City to drop this one in Orlando.
"I just felt like the game was in reach, so I didn't want us to hang our heads," Perkins said. "I knew we could just crawl back into it. I looked up and I didn't even notice that we were only down three (points) at one time, and we were only one stop away from taking the lead. ... All five of us were tied on a string. We just kept grinding and doing what we needed to do, and that's how we got it done."
While Perkins' defense and the team's reaction to it helped hold the Magic to only 15 fourth-quarter points from the start of the period until there were 11 seconds remaining, the Thunder also needed some offense to climb out of its 11-point deficit. That's where Durant came into play, as he went 5-of-6, including 2-of-3 from 3-point land in the fourth quarter while also knocking down all six of his foul shots and piling up five rebounds. During an exhilarating stretch of basketball, Durant converted two 3-pointers at the top of the key, then went to battle with the seconds winding down on the shot clock and hit a one-footed fall-away from 19 feet that put the Thunder up by five points with 52 seconds to go.
"I'm just excited I'm playing the game of basketball, healthy, with a great group of guys," Durant said. "I'm grateful for a great organization. No matter if I have a good game or a bad game, I'm still thankful. ... I think we did a good job of just playing hard, that makes up for a lot of mistakes. We got a good comeback win."
During the first three quarters, it was Westbrook's offense that carried the load. Not only did he score 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting through the first 36 minutes, he also dished out eight of his 10 assists in that time. In the fourth quarter Westbrook went down with a left ankle sprain, but Brooks said after the game that his point guard has the "heart of a lion" and as a result didn't come out of the game until the last 16 seconds, when the outcome was nearly secure. For a team that struggled in some respects through the first three quarters, it was Westbrook's ability to get into the paint and finish with both hands through contact that kept things close and allowed the Thunder to shift into its next gear to get the win in the fourth quarter.
"He (Westbrook) takes so much pressure off of everybody," Durant said. "He can loosen up the defense with his drives. He can shoot the basketball, he can pass really well, rebound. He does so much for us. It's just great having him on our team. He does stuff that you really can't teach. He's so athletic and has great instincts and hangs. He's just phenomenal. He makes me a lot better. He gets me easy baskets, he believes in me, he trusts me, even if I miss eight or nine shots in a row, he's still going to come to me. He's been a great leader this year for us."
The turning point came with 7:08 remaining in the game, with the Thunder down 86-78. After a jump ball that James Harden won over Jason Richardson, the Thunder began to climb back into it thanks to a midrange bankshot by Russell Westbrook and a layup by Kevin Durant. Kendrick Perkins picked up his fifth foul, but that didn't slow him down as he twice forced Dwight Howard into misses, including blocking a short shot and firing it to Durant to draw a foul and knock down lead-changing free throws. On the next possession after taking the lead, Durant drained a 3-pointer, and on the Thunder's next offensive possession the Magic went to a zone defense, which allowed the Thunder to rotate the basketball and find a wide open Royal Ivey in the corner for a crucial 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 96-91 lead with 2:46 remaining. That 18-5 Thunder run totally changed the course of the game, and led to the win.
"Coach (Brooks) drew up a play, we didn't know they were going to go zone," Ivey said. "I just spaced to the corner and the ball came to me, and I just knocked it down. They stayed in the zone on another play and KD (Durant) just walked into another three. The way the ball was shifting, they were moving too quick and we got easy shots. That's just being confident and knowing what you do best."
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kendrick Perkins doing a good job early of pushing Dwight Howard out of the lane, Russell Westbrook using his size to post up Jameer Nelson... Great box out on the defensive end by Perkins, then he uses good positioning on offense to tap in a missed shot... Really nice cross-court pass by Kevin Durant to Daequan Cook for a short-corner jumper, then Durant makes a steal and gets awarded two points for goaltending... Serge Ibaka and Westbrook running the pick-and-pop very nicely... Another steal for Durant, who leads a 3-on-2 break and dishes to Westbrook for two... Beautiful job of rotating the basketball by Westbrook and Ibaka, then Perkins does a nice job of tapping out a miss for an offensive rebound... A smart outlet pass gets Westbrook and Durant into transition... Good work by James Harden to follow up his own miss and grab the offensive rebound... Big offensive rebound by Nazr Mohammed that frees up Harden for a driving layup... Nice rotation by Harden to block a shot, then takes a smart foul to prevent a layup... Pretty offensive play to set up a cross-court pass from Harden to Royal Ivey for a corner 3-pointer, then Nick Collison tips out a defensive rebound to a teammate and finishes at the rim on the other end... Mohammed squares up and plays tough defense to force an air ball... Beautiful give-and-go between Harden and Collison for a Harden dunk... Good trap up top by Reggie Jackson and Mohammed to force a jump ball... Tough defensive rebound by Jackson on defense, then he knocks down a 3-pointer on the other end... Mohammed takes a charge on the ensuing possession... Great play-call by Coach Brooks out of the timeout to get a Durant pass to Westbrook for a layup and the foul... Nice rotation on a pick-and-roll to force a Nelson turnover... Ibaka flies in to prevent a dunk and force Howard to shoot free throws... Huge offensive rebound by Westbrook to grab his own missed free throw and feed Durant for a 3-pointer... What an incredible display of athleticism by Westbrook to get to the edge and acrobatically hit a leaner while getting fouled... Strong defense inside by Ibaka to contest a shot, then big rebound from Perkins... Three teammates running over to help Westbrook off the floor after a hustle play... Great job of standing tall by Perkins to make a steal, which Durant converts on the other end in transition... Nice work being vocal on the pick-and-roll by Perkins then Ibaka and Durant play perfect defense to force a missed 3-pointer.
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Westbrook gkeeps the play alive by tapping an offensive rebound to Perkins... Incredible vision by Durant to find Perkins for a dunk off a bounce pass through the lane... Smart foul by Perkins to stop a dunk attempt... Beautiful give-and-go from Westbrook to Durant on the fast break after an expert outlet pass by Perkins...Nice job of getting to the edge and finishing with his left hand by Westbrook... Durant uses his length to snare a defensive rebound... Quick hands by Collison to steal a pass into the post that leads to a Thunder run-out... Harden exchanging hand signals with the bench... Slick bounce pass by Harden to find Westbrook for a jumper... Hustle play by Cook to get back in transition and force a turnover by getting good position... Harden does such a marvelous job with his pacing to hang in the lane for a floater... Collison stays down on Glen Davis' pump fakes and gets a block... Ivey chasing JJ Redick around screens, then Harden finds Durant on a backdoor cut for a dunk... Heads up play by Westbrook to keep a possession alive by tapping out a loose offensive rebound to Harden... Harden slices and dices the Magic defense for an important dunk... Harden goes up and gets that jump ball, Westbrook takes advantage and knocked down a bank shot... Well executed back pick by Perkins to free up Durant to attack the rim... Incredible defense by Perkins in the post to get a piece of Howard's shot, then Harden slinks his way to the rim for two points... Then Perkins makes a huge block of Howard, and gets the ball to Durant to draw two foul shots!... Great team rebounding by the Thunder to corall an important loose ball... Beautiful job of moving the basketball by the Thunder against the zone, getting Ivey an open 3-pointer... Durant answers with another 3-pointer, then Ivey comes and crashes down on Howard to knock the ball away... Great job by Durant to use his length to grab a defensive rebound... Durant hits a crazy, one-footed fall-away from the top of the key as the shot clock expires!... Good hustle on defense by the Thunder to rotate and switch on screens, then it forces a tough shot and Durant comes down with the loose ball.