Regular Season Recap - Thunder vs Pistons
3 Steals for Kevin Martin on the night, in addition to a blocked shot and 16 points
5 Players who scored in double figures tonight (Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin, Eric Maynor and Russell Westbrook
6 Assists for Kendrick Perkins, a season-high, and a part of 21 total assists for the Thunder
13 Rebounds for Kevin Durant, including 12 on the defensive end, in addition to a game-high 25 points
13 Points for Eric Maynor on the night, a season-high. Maynor shot 5-for-6 from the field, including 3-for-3 from the three point line
25 Points for Serge Ibaka on 9-for-13 shooting. Those 25 points represent a career-high for the fourth-year man
41.4 Shooting percentage the Thunder held the Pistons to, including 31.6 percent from three point land
53.5 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night, a season-high, including 40 percent from the three point line
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
It wasn’t the Thunder’s first back-to-back set of the season and it certainly won’t be the last, but after tonight’s 105-94 victory over the Detroit Pistons, the Thunder can use the past two days as a good defensive starting point moving forward.
The effort was there and while sometimes tough shots fell and the Detroit offense broke the Thunder down, but yet again Head Coach Scott Brooks’ defense held its opponent to a low field goal shooting percentage. The Pistons shot only 41.4 percent from the floor, including 6-for-19 from the three point line, as the Thunder held their men in check on the second night of a tough back-to-back.
“Defense, that’s what we take pride in,” Brooks said. “To play a back-to-back knowing that we had to play good defense, I’m happy with that. To hold a team in the low 40’s (shooting percentage), that’s what we try to do every night and we did that tonight.”
In Thursday night’s victory in Chicago against the Bulls, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka came within one point of tying his career high, with a 21-point effort. Tonight in front of the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Ibaka eclipsed his career-high with a 25-point effort on an efficient 9-for-13 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds. Ibaka, the humble, hard-working type that he is, was quick to praise his teammates for contributing to his success.
“It feels good,” Ibaka said. “First of all I want to thank my teammates. They did a great job to find me. They knew I was hot. They give me confidence. I scored the points, but they did a great job to pass me the ball.”
Over the past few years and months, it is clear that the Thunder puts more and more confidence in Ibaka each day to be a weapon on the offensive end. His diligence at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center has earned Ibaka the trust of his teammates and coaching staff, as well as his dedication to finding high-percentage areas of the floor, like the dunker spot and the elbow and baseline jumpers.
“It feels good because they know I work every day,” Ibaka said. “I just try to find easy spots to get some points offensively. I just find the open spot because I trust my teammates will give me the ball. Every time on offense, I just focus to find open spots to get easy points.”
The Thunder racked up 21 assists on the night, the fourth straight occasion the team has reached 20-plus assists this year. On two possessions in particular, the Thunder made five crisp passes to find open men for good looks. As the game of basketball would have it, both shots went in and rewarded the precise, unselfish offensive play. Much of that was sparked by Eric Maynor in the second unit, as he shot 5-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from the three-point line for a season-high 13 points.
“We’re just trying to play, and Scotty is telling us to be aggressive,” Maynor said. “Just play basketball, try not to call too many plays. Get some stops and get out in transition and play our pick-and-rolls. We’re trying to do that a lot now. It’s working.”
The action on the floor tonight was exciting, as a hard-fought game was turned into a Thunder win thanks to some heady offensive play and tough defense. Thunder fans were also treated to brand new, alternate uniforms that the Thunder wore for the first of twelve times this season. There were many already-purchased alternate jerseys seen throughout the crowd on Friday, and it seemed that the players and fans both like the new uniforms.
“I think (the team) did like them, they’re very stylish,” guard Kevin Martin said. “Hopefully we keep on wearing those… I saw a lot (of them) tonight, so (the fans) must have liked them. And if they like them, we like them.”
The Thunder led 84-77 with 7:42 remaining in the fourth quarter, and it looked as though the Pistons were going to hang around and make this one interesting. Over the span of two minutes, the Thunder burst out to a 9-0 run, turning that lead into a 93-77 advantage. An Eric Maynor three point jumper off a five-pass possession sparked the run, and it was followed up by a Kevin Martin bank shot, Kevin Durant step-back jumper and two free throws from Durant. During that stretch, the Thunder forced two turnovers and a missed shot.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Really savvy understanding of the game and one another as Collison and Martin worked the two-man game, resulting in a Collison drive to Maynor for three. Collison goes all out for an offensive rebound, diving on the floor then saving it out to the perimeter for a Maynor three. Kevin Durant does a nice job of smartly staying down on Tayshawn Prince’s pump fake at the end of the half.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Nice triangle bounce-passing from Durant to Perkins to Ibaka for a dunk. Wonderful vision by Perkins and astonishing quickness from Westbrook on a backdoor cut for a dunk. Incredible hustle by Collison and Sefolosha to combine for a steal, then Sefolosha hits Martin for a three pointer. Beautiful ball movement as the Thunder made five passes on one possession to get an open three pointer. Another five-pass possession results in a Westbrook to Perkins wide open dunk.
“It was one of those games where you just have to fight through. And I think we did that the past two nights. We have to find a way to come in with a lot more energy to start the game versus Cleveland, and we’ll be fine.” – Kevin Durant