Regular Season Recap - Thunder vs. Warriors


4 Steals for Russell Westbrook, part of 12 total for the Thunder on the night

5 Players who scored in double figures for the Thunder, helping the team move to 16-1 when that happens

6 Blocks for Serge Ibaka, who also had 16 points and nine rebounds

11 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins, who also had six points, two assists and two of the Thunder’s 16 blocks

21 Points for Kevin Martin, including 10 in the fourth quarter, in addition to four assists

29 Assists for the Thunder, including six by Reggie Jackson and a career-high 4 for Serge Ibaka

29-12 Differential in points off turnovers in the Thunder’s favor

64-40 Differential in points in the paint in the Thunder’s favor, where it shot 32-for-48


Feb. 6th, 2013

The Golden State Warriors have a high-powered offense, but on Wednesday night, the Thunder’s defense was up to the challenge, and stifled the Warriors all night.

Thunder perimeter defenders were fighting over screens and catching up to their men, while bigs were helping each other, then getting help from the wings to play a complete defensive game. The effort was jumpstarted by the ball pressure by Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha on the perimeter, then followed up by the length, athleticism and toughness of Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins along the back line. On the night, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ squad held Golden State to 40.9 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers which turned into 29 points.

“It was really good, we had some good carry over from last game,” Durant said. “We were able to get our hands on the basketball and make some tough shots and contest at the rim. Perkins was good, Russell was good, we had to follow up (and increase) the lead.”

On the perimeter the Thunder was busy making 12 steals, but when the Warriors did get into the paint, the Thunder turned them away as well. Ibaka had six of the Thunder’s season-high 16 blocks on the night and managed to alter many more throughout the evening. It was the work he did in confluence with Perkins and Durant in the pant that helped the Thunder deny the Warriors easy looks at the basket throughout the evening, starting with a 34-22 first quarter and a 16-3 run that extended into the second quarter that effectively sealed the win.

“Serge set it up in the first half, he altered probably three or four shots and he had five blocks,” Brooks said. “He’s been like that all year. He protects it (the paint). He can guard fours, he can guard smaller players. He has the quickness to stay in front of guards. He has the ability to block shots above the rim and he did that tonight in the first half.”

One word to describe the Thunder tonight was opportunistic, something it has been throughout the year. The team moved to 11-1 when blocking 10-or-more shots, 15-3 when making 10-or-more steals and 26-7 when out-scoring its opponent in fast break points. Tonight the Thunder racked up 20 transition points and made the most of their chances on live-ball turnovers that the Warriors committed. The key was the intensity displayed by the whole team, particularly Westbrook and Ibaka, throughout the night. The Thunder was communicating and staying disciplined, then striking when it had the opportunity.

“Being aggressive,” Ibaka said. “It worked for us and after great defense and every block I got tonight, my teammates were scoring after that. That’s something that makes me happy. Also, Perk did a great job to help me every time I was trying to be aggressive out top. I think that’s the key.”

Once the Thunder made its stop on the defensive end either with a block, steal or rebound, it quickly pushed tempo in transition or settled into a well-run half court set. In those situations Brooks’ club was extremely unselfish, finding one another for easy looks at the basket after multiple passes. In fact, nine different players registered an assist tonight, part of 29 total handouts for the evening.

“It was one of our best passing games,” Brooks said. “Everybody, we were really looking for each other to score and we were making shots… You like to see that as a team, you like to see that as players and coaches.”

While the bench was extremely effective in its own right, led by Reggie Jackson and Kevin Martin’s combined 33 points and 10 assists, it was the balance of the first unit that was particularly compelling. The starters combined for 17 assists, including a career-high four from Ibaka. Developing as an elite spot-up mid-range shooter, Ibaka has also been trending towards using that reputation to find open looks for teammates. He was effective doing that out of the high-post tonight, and his dedication to making the right play was contagious.

“I’m getting better,” Ibaka said. “It’s normal, every game, you learn. Right now people know I can shoot the ball, especially when I have the ball at the free throw line up top. I’m trying to swing it to Kevin or whoever and go screen. Then the next one, it gets you open.”

Turning Point:
The Thunder led 26-19 with 2:25 remaining in the first quarter, then used a 16-3 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes to turn the game entirely. It started with incredible unselfishness between Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin as Ibaka hit a corner three after multiple passes, then continued with a Martin pull-up and a Thabo Sefolosha three-pointer. The Thunder then got two free throws from Martin, two buckets in the lane from Nick Collison and a jumper from Martin to bring the lead to 42-22 with 10:14 left in the second quarter. The Warriors never got closer than 11 the rest of the way. Martin said that it was plays like the ping-pong passing between himself and Ibaka that opened things up for the rest of the team.

“We were focused from the start tonight,” Martin said. “Little plays like that help. Late in the game, Serge gave it back to me for an easy dunk. Just plays like that, throughout the game, it gets everybody in a rhythm.”

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Wonderful pump fake by Westbrook to draw a man, then Ibaka finds space at the elbow for an open jumper. Great toughness by Perkins to tip out an offensive rebound to give the Thunder another possession. Ibaka flies back in transition defense to swat a shot and save a bucket. Unselfishness by Martin and Ibaka to play ping pong along the wing until Ibaka got a wide open shot. Great pump-fake by Martin to give himself space along the baseline for a jumper.

Plays the box score won't show:
Ibaka slaps a loose offensive rebound back to a teammate to regain possession. Great play call by Brooks out of the timeout to free up a whole side of the floor for Westbrook. Great awareness by Ibaka to see Durant open on the wing for a three-pointer. Incredible post defense by Perkins to stay in front of his man in the lane then block his shot. Durant hustles back in transition defense to force a wild miss. Collison hustles and dives on the floor to get a jump ball.

“I’m looking for us to just continue to bring the effort on the defensive end. I’ve always felt with our guys as the season has gone and the years have gone by that offensively we’re going to keep improving in that area but we wanted to focus on defense.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks