THUNDER 102
CAVALIERS 95
4 Steals by Derek Fisher, who also scored 12 of the Thunder’s 30 bench points

5 Players who scored in double figures for the Thunder on the night

6 Assists for Reggie Jackson, in addition to 13 poitns and four rebounds

11 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka, in addition to 16 points and three blocks

18-11 The Thunder’s edge in second chance points thanks to 18 offensive rebounds

25:50 Minutes played by Jeremy Lamb, who scored 10 points and made three rebounds, two assists and two blocks

35 Points for Kevin Durant, extending his streak of games with 25-or-more points to 33, in addition to 11 rebounds and six assists

53-36 The Thunder’s rebounding advantage on the night, as it won its 50th game of the season

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
March 20th, 2014
RECAP:

CLEVELAND – The Thunder sustained a late punch, but thanks to the cushion it built and some late-game toughness, it held on for its 50th victory of the season.

In a 102-95 victory on the road over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, the Thunder built up a 24-point lead after a huge 16-2 run that spanned halftime. In the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers cut the Thunder lead to just five points, but a timely drive-and-dish by Kevin Durant to Serge Ibaka for a dunk and five Durant free throws sealed the victory.

Most of the night, the Thunder’s defense was stout, and it closed out the game strongly as well after a tough stretch mid-way through the fourth quarter. It was visible to all in attendance that particularly in the second and third quarters, when the Thunder outscored Cleveland by a combined 21 points, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club was talking, pointing and coordinating with one another on the defensive end of the floor.

“Guys were really talking on coverages, talking on our switches and aggressively switching out,” Durant said. “We made them shoot jump shots. They hit some, but we were aggressive and contested the ball as well.”

The Thunder finished those defensive possessions full of good communication with a rebound on most occasions, finishing with a 53-36 rebounding edge on the night. Perhaps the play the sealed the game, however, was an offensive rebound by Jeremy Lamb. Despite not playing as many minutes in recent games, Lamb saw 26 minutes of action tonight, racking up 10 points, two assists, two blocks and three rebounds, including the crucial one with less than a minute remaining and the Thunder clutching to a five-point lead.

“I like what (Jeremy) did,” Brooks said. “We talk about as a group to stay ready... I’m really glad that he came in aggressive on both ends of the floor.”

“(Jeremy) played phenomenal tonight,” Durant said. “After sitting so many games and not knowing when he was going to play, to come out and have an opportunity to play, he came out aggressive on defense and offensively he was aggressive at the rim and knocking down shots. I’m happy for Jeremy. He’s one of those guys who is going to come to work every single day and play hard every time he’s on the floor. Tonight it showed and it paid off for him.”

Lamb was one of five Thunder players in double figures tonight as the Thunder clinched a 50-win season yet again. Durant extended his streak of games with 25-or-more points to 33 as he racked up 35 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Serge Ibaka recorded his 25th double-double of the year with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Derek Fisher and Caron Butler combined for 20 points off the bench, but another crucial player in the Thunder’s win was Reggie Jackson, who filled in at the starting point guard position as Russell Westbrook rested. Jackson finished with 13 points, six assists and four rebounds while also defending strongly at the top of the key and getting the Thunder into its offense.

“Reggie did a good job of making sure everybody got involved in the offense and got shots and touches with his passing,” Brooks said.

“I’m just being aggressive and mostly just trying to free my mind and not necessarily think the game too much and play freely,” Jackson said. “If I see a play, make it.”

TURNING POINT:

From the 2:38 mark of the second quarter to the 10:50 mark of the third quarter, the Thunder used a 16-2 run to break the game open for good. It was just 45-44 Thunder late in the second quarter when Jeremy Lamb caught a pass from Reggie Jackson on the baseline and hit a running floater. Jackson made a steal on the next possession that led to an alley-oop in transition to Kevin Durant.

After a Cavaliers bucket, Durant found Lamb for a three-pointer, Serge Ibaka hit a hook shot in the lane and then Durant isolated and beat the halftime buzzer with a 16-foot jumper to make it 56-46 at the break. Coming out of halftime, Durant hit a 31-foot three-pointer, then Steven Adams battled underneath to grab an offensive rebound and finished at the rim to make it 61-48.

“We got the ball moving,” Durant explained. “We missed some shots, but when the ball is moving like that, it titled the defense and we were able to get some easy points. That’s what got us the lead.”

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:

Andre Roberson slaps the ball out of his man’s hands to disrupt a Cavaliers possession. Strong man-to-man defense on the perimeter by Steven Adams forces his man into a difficult missed shot. Nice box out underneath by Serge Ibaka to allow Kevin Durant to swoop in for a rebound. Great pick-and-roll defense by the Thunder to not allow Cleveland to get a shot off at the end of the quarter. Good defense by Jeremy Lamb to make his man change dribble hands multiple times on his attempted drive, then he closes out strong on a shooter.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:

Great job battling for position underneath by Adams to draw a foul on the offensive glass. Patient one-on-one defense by Roberson to force his man into a difficult, long-range jumper at the very end of the shot clock. Incredible recognition of the game clock and all five defenders on the floor as Durant hits Derek Fisher for a three-pointer to beat the third-quarter buzzer. Incredible hustle by Fisher to run back in transition and deflect a lob pass to a much taller player. Beautiful passing between Lamb and Nick Collison to get a wide open dunk for Ibaka, then Fisher hustles back in transition to knock a ball away from an opponent.



“I thought if we could move their feet, we could get good shots. Guys did a great job in that second quarter… We did a great job defending and a great job of rebounding the basketball tonight. I like the guys’ effort and energy on both ends.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks

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