THUNDER 119
RAPTORS 118
17-7 Advantage in fast break points for the Thunder on the night

22-15 The Thunder’s advantage in points off turnovers, forcing the Raptors into 20 turnovers

23 Lead changes in the game, in addition to 12 ties

25 Points for Reggie Jackson, in addition to 12 rebounds for his first career double-double

31-for-38 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder on the night, including 10-for-10 by Reggie Jackson

40-25 The Thunder’s edge in bench points, aided by Derek Fisher’s eight

40.6 Shooting percentage the Thunder’s defense held the Rapt

51 Points for Kevin Durant on the night in addition to 12 rebounds, seven assists and steal and a block

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
March 21st, 2014
RECAP:

The Thunder hung in there and hung in there, and even when it looked dire, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club dug even deeper.

Despite trailing by eight points with 49 seconds remaining in double overtime on the road against the Toronto Raptors, the Thunder didn’t let up even for a second and came away with an incredible 119-118 victory. A back-and-forth game saw 23 lead changes and 12 ties, but defense was the consistent theme throughout the evening, as neither team shot better than 41 percent on the night. Unfazed by missed shots earlier in the night, the Thunder hit three consecutive three-pointers, including one by Derek Fisher and the game-winner with 1.7 seconds left by Kevin Durant to seal the comeback victory.

“We never count ourselves out,” Durant said. “No matter what, we play until that last buzzer sounds. Fish hit a huge shot and by the grace of God, I let that one fly and I was able to hit it. These guys fought hard. We stuck together.”

After Russell Westbrook left the game with a sprained right knee in the third quarter, the Thunder could have buckled, but instead the mental toughness derived from the leadership of Durant, Fisher, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka ensured that the team never quit. Even after the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry hit two free throws to make it a three possession game with less than a minute to go, the Thunder calmly called timeout and assessed its options. Three straight well-executed offensive possessions were backed up by stout team defense from all five men on the floor to force the Raptors into a shot clock violation and a difficult missed fadeaway at the buzzer by DeMar DeRozan.

“Down by eight with 49 seconds and some change left, the way our team is made up, the way they fight for each other, it’s never over,” Brooks explained.

It was a full team effort on Friday night, with Reggie Jackson stepping up for one of the finest nights of his career, including his first career double-double of 25 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Serge Ibaka chipped in 13 points, Westbrook had 15 before he went down and the bench contributed 40 points. Perhaps the most essential aspects of what those in the Thunder rotation contributed came in ways not shown on the stat sheet.

Jeremy Lamb’s readiness to enter the game in the final minutes of the second overtime period and Hasheem Thabeet’s presence on the final defensive stop to force a difficult inbounds pass were both essential to victory. In addition to Durant, Fisher’s timely shot making, defensive toughness and leadership were also a huge factor.

“Fish had a tough game shooting the basketball, but he played his heart out on defense,” Durant said. “I told him before he hit that three that he was going to make a shot. We look at him as being a leader and being positive and keeping his head up. He came down and hit a huge shot.”

The catalyst for everything the Thunder did on both sides of the floor, however, was Durant, who was sensational with his intensity and precision on both ends of the floor. He blocked an Amir Johnson shot in the paint to save a late bucket and contested DeMar DeRozan’s last second attempt, forcing a miss.

On the offensive end Durant was dynamic, scoring 51 points on 15-for-32 shooting, including 7-for-12 from three-point range and 14-for-19 from the free throw line. As a facilitator, Durant dished out seven assists and he also racked up a team-high-tying 12 rebounds. Including his game-winning three-pointer on the left wing, Durant was a force who seemingly had an answer for every challenge the time and score presented.

“I just tried to have positive thoughts and be a leader out there,” Durant said. “I struggled early on but I just tried to stick with it and tried to go out and have fun.”

TURNING POINT:

The situation looked dire, but the Thunder had a few cards left up its sleeve. Down 118-110 with just 49.3 seconds remaining, Head Coach Scott Brooks took a timeout and the Thunder rattled off nine straight points to get the win. Kevin Durant hit a banked-in three-pointer right out of the timeout, then after forcing the Raptors into a shot clock violation, Durant got double-teamed then he hit Derek Fisher for a three-pointer.

A frenetic play with just 14.9 seconds remaining nearly gave the Thunder an opportunity to head to the free throw line, but the call went the other way, resulting in two Toronto free throw attempts. John Salmons missed both, giving the Thunder one more chance with 8.8 seconds remaining, trailing 118-116. With the ball in the corner, Durant took a couple dribbles left and rose up over the outstretched arms of a defender and drained a game-winning three-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining. The 9-0 run to close out the game was emphatic on both ends of the floor.

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

Russell Westbrook hustles back in transition to stop a Raptors fast break opportunity. Strong defensive rebound by Steven Adams, who then clears out space and pushes the ball ahead with a nice outlet pass. Great hustle by Kevin Durant to get out to a loose ball and then get into transition and draw a foul. Stout Thunder defense by the whole unit to force a shot clock violation. Incredible awareness by Serge Ibaka to tip out an offensive board to give the Thunder another possession. Beautifully drawn-up play by Head Coach Scott Brooks out of a timeout to get Durant a three-pointer.

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

Excellent execution on an in-bounds play to free up Durant for an open dunk. Adams sets a strong screen to free up Durant at the top of the key for a three-pointer. Andre Roberson dives on the floor for a loose ball and draws a jump ball, which he wins. Perfect extra pass from Caron Butler to Reggie Jackson for a wide-open layup in the halfcourt. Beautiful back-door cut and communication between Durant and Jackson. Wonderful hustle by Jackson to dive on the floor and brilliant thinking by Jackson and Brooks to call a timeout.



“The defense gave us a chance. The spirit of our team gave us a chance to win this game.” - Head Coach Scott Brooks

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