Regular Season Recap - Thunder vs Raptors
8 Assists for Russell Westbrook on the night, compared to only one turnover for the Thunder point guard. The Thunder as a team had 24 assists total
8-for-9 Serge Ibaka's shooting numbers, earning him a season-high in points at 17
9 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins, including three on the offensive end
9 Blocked shots by the Thunder, with two each coming from Perkins, Ibaka, Sefolosha and Thabeet
10 Points for Hasheem Thabeet, tying a career-high, on a perfect shooting night from the floor and the free throw line
11 Players who scored for the Thunder tonight, including six in double figures
30-17 Scoring differential in the Thunder's favor in the first quarter
46 Rebounds for the Thunder, nine more than the Toronto Raptors
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
On the defensive end, Thunder hands were seemingly everywhere on Tuesday night.
Disrupting pick-and-rolls, getting hands in the passing lanes and contesting shots were all a part of the Thunder recipe for victory tonight over the Toronto Raptors, as Head Coach Scott Brooks' squad jumped out to a 13-point first quarter lead and rolled to a 108-88 victory. Kevin Durant and his teammates forced 17 Raptors turnovers and held them to 35.7 percent shooting, all indicators of a commitment to defensive principles.
"We started the game off with a lot of intensity," Durant said. "That's what we need every game from here on out, to start the game off with a lot of energy. We fed off our crowd, our bench was up and excited about every play. That helped us out a lot. Guys were moving the basketball and just helping each other on defense."
The score was about level through the first six minutes, but thanks to a strong effort on the boards and tough defense by the Thunder starting unit, the game broke open. Nine blocked shots also helped do the trick, but overall it was the energy, effort and vigor with which the Thunder starting unit displayed that spurred on the entire team. Once Kevin Martin and the second unit entered the game, they just picked up right where the starters left off.
"Just (the starters') intensity, when they start out the game like that, we'll be tough to beat," Martin said. "They started it and we came in and just wanted to pack the lane. We knew their tendencies and did a great job."
Whether it was communicating properly, aggressively attacking the pick-and-roll or simply maintaining their proper coverages against high screens, the Thunder stayed true to its defensive principles throughout the night. Nick Collison took a charge, Hasheem Thabeet protected the lane and Kendrick Perkins hauled in nine rebounds to continually get stops for the Thunder and give the team opportunities to get out and run.
"We were much better tonight," Collison said. "We wanted to come out and really do much better. I think it was just that our energy was better. It makes a big difference every possession if they don't penetrate and get in the paint to start it off."
Being able to pull the ball down and get out in transition is a major boost to the Thunder offense, who saw 11 different players score, including six in double figures. Thanks to slick ball movement and 24 assists, the Thunder was able to get good shots within the flow of the offense, drive the lane and draw fouls and get fast break buckets. It was the balanced scoring, with players like Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Eric Maynor and Thabeet combining for 47 points that boosted the Thunder offense all night.
"You need nights like that in the NBA," Martin. "You're not going to be able to beat teams with three guys (scoring). Tonight Serge stepped up, Eric played well and they're going to have nights like that. We're going to need them."
The Thunder held a 15-12 lead with 6:08 left in the first quarter before embarking on a 15-3 run to make it 30-15 Thunder with 1:45 left in the quarter. By forcing six straight missed jump shots on the defensive end and getting three point jumpers from Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha, the Thunder was able to run away with things during the final stretch of the first quarter.
"I thought the start was a big part of our win tonight. We talked about this the last few days, just starting the game with a defensive mindset, a game of toughness and I thought we did that in that first quarter." – Head Coach Scott Brooks
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Beautiful play to start the game as Durant set a back screen for Westbrook to get an alley oop from Sefolosha... Perkins with a strong stuff at the rim then Westbrook patiently dishes to Ibaka for a dunk in transition… Perfectly executed back cut by Durant off a feed to Perkins for a dunk… Durant taps the ball off the backboard to himself for a defensive rebound… Perfect skip pass by Durant on a drive to Sefolosha in the corner for a three… Great screen by Perkins to free up Sefolsoha in the corner for three again… Perkins positions himself expertly on the correct side of the rim to be in the right spot to make a tip in… Really tight man-to-man defense by Durant forces an air ball… Thabeet with a perfect helpside rotation to make a block, timed it perfectly… Collison steps in and with great positioning takes a charge… Thabeet battles really hard on the offensive glass and draws a foul… Great timing and quickness by Martin on a backdoor cut to draw a foul… Smart pump fake by Collison to draw his man out, then he hit Thabeet with a bounce pass for a dunk… Nice awareness by Martin to sprint down court then slick touch on the Ibaka pitch-ahead pass for the layup… Fantastic driving, no-look pass by Sefolosha to Ibaka for a dunk.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Durant smartly slides up the wing to relocate and get open for a three pointer… Wonderful bounce pass by Westbrook to hit Ibaka at the dunker spot for a well, dunk… Incredible hustle by Westbrook to close out on multiple shooters and block a shot… Smart cut to the hoop by Sefolosha and good awareness by Ibaka to hit him for a layup… Great awareness by Martin to slap the ball away on a Raptor back cut, then Thabeet smartly fouls to disrupt a four-on-one fast break… Thabeet hedges out on a side pick and roll and completely disrupts it… Beautiful lefty finish by Maynor in transition, he changed hands almost in mid-air… Jackson hustles back to knock away a pitch-ahead pass on the fast break… Jones hustles back to make a steal in transition… Liggins hustles and tracks down an offensive board in the corner.
"I thought our activity and our deflections were good. We moved, we were all over the floor. We have to use our length, we have to use our athleticism. We don't want easy passes to get in." – Head Coach Scott Brooks