Regular Season Recap - Thunder vs. Nets
1 Number of lead changes in the game, which also featured one tie
5 Blocked shots for Serge Ibaka for the evening
10 Assists for Russell Westbrook on the night, in addition to three steals
11 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins tonight, a season-high
11-for-17 Shooting numbers for Kevin Durant, who knocked in 27 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists
11-for-19 Shooting numbers for Russell Westbrook, who scored 26 points
15-7 Fast break points advantage for the Thunder
27-15 Scoring differential in the Thunder’s favor in the third quarter
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
The cheering swelled and the raucous Chesapeake Energy Arena did its best to tune its noise level to the same fever pitch the Thunder created as it rose from a 23-point deficit.
The momentum of the Thunder’s game against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night had almost entirely shifted into Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team’s favor when Kevin Martin nailed a three-pointer from the wing to tie the game at 85 with 7:11 remaining. The Nets, however, had one more run in them before the night was through, and pushed back the Thunder squad with a 23-5 run of its own to seal a 110-93 victory over the Thunder. It was a valiant effort by Brooks’ troops to dig itself out of a deep hole, but in the end it just wasn’t quite enough.
“I knew we were going to battle back,” Brooks said. “We’ve always done that. That’s our DNA – we’re going to always fight back to the last possession.”
Jumping out of the gate with 33 points in the first quarter helped the Nets burst out to the biggest lead any opponent has had against the Thunder this season at 23 points, but the Thunder started to make its move late in the second quarter, going on an 11-4 run to end the half. Then, in the third quarter the Thunder outscored the nets 27-15 before a quick 6-0 run in the fourth quarter tied up the game. It was effort, energy and intensity on the defensive end that helped the Thunder turn this one around.
“I think we turned it up defensively,” forward Nick Collison said. “We had that extra juice that we needed on every screen action. It was a lot better. The problem is when you get down so much, it is tough to come back.”
On the other side of the ball, Russell Westbrook’s leadership and focus helped keep the scoreboard moving and the Thunder within striking distance. On 11-for-19 shooting, Westbrook had 26 points, while also racking up 10 assists and making three steals. Along with his mutli-talented scoring partner Kevin Durant, who finished with 27 on 11-for-17 shooting, Westbrook led the offensive charge when the Thunder needed a lift on a tough defensive night.
“He was just aggressive,” Durant said. “Shots were falling for him and he was getting to the rim. He was just aggressive for us. Offense is not what lost us the game. It wasn’t because we didn’t have enough shots or assists, but because we didn’t have defense.”
The Thunder fell to 24-7 on the season with the loss, but is taking no time to dwell on it. On Friday night the Philadelphia 76ers come to town in another matchup against an Eastern Conference foe that the Thunder played on the road already earlier this season. Brooks’ crew will spend Thursday and Friday morning preparing for the task, then try to execute its game plan on offense and defense come Friday night.
“It’s a fine line of winning and losing, and it takes commitment on both ends of the floor to be a good team,” Brooks said. “We don’t feel good that we lost the game tonight, but we are a good basketball team and we will focus on the next game like we’ve always done.”
The Thunder clawed all the way back from 23 points behind to tie the game in the fourth quarter on a Kevin Martin three pointer, which knotted the game at 85 with 7:11 remaining. From there on out, however, the Thunder was outscored by Brooklyn by a score of 25-8 the rest of the way. The Thunder fouled eight times in the final seven minutes of the contest while also turning the ball over four times. On the other end, the Nets made 20-of-21 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Russell Westbrook smartly tips a loose defensive rebound to Ibaka to prevent a Nets offensive rebound. Durant makes a steal in the lane and doesn’t wait to go coast to coast for a dunk. Great toughness on defense by Collison and Ibaka to stay in front then battle for a rebound. Pretty pass from Westbrook in transition to fake a midrange jumper, then fire it to Ibaka for a dunk. Incredible defensive effort by Westbrook to make two steals in a row. Wonderful toughness by Ibaka to fight through and get a defensive board.
Plays the box score won't show, second half and overtime:
Quick hands by Perkins to snare a sharp defensive rebound off a missed free throw. Fantastic one-on-one defense by Westbrook to stop three cross-over dribbles by Deron Williams. Incredible man-to-man defense by Sefolosha on Joe Johnson to block his shot as the shot clock wound down. Great hustle by Perkins to fight for a loose ball, which helped the Thunder force a shot clock violation. Sefolosha skies in for a loose defensive rebound.
“We take pride in our defensive execution but it wasn’t here tonight. I give them a lot of credit. They played an extremely good basketball game on both ends of the court. We had one good quarter in that third quarter but it wasn’t enough to win the game.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks