When talking about the Thunder and how they close out games in the fourth quarter, we are usually talking about how Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook closed out the game for OKC. However tonight it was a complete team close out. Everybody contributed in the fourth quarter, and it really was a awesome thing to see, and hopefully a sign of things to come.
Early in this game, Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet had a huge impact on the game as they helped out KD and Westbrook on the offensive end in the first quarter. They combined for 15 points and 9 rebounds and just brought a great energy to the team. I think this really set the tone for the Thunder, as the rest of the night they really made a concentrated effort to get the basketball inside. This makes any offense much better, and it helped the Thunder throughout the contest.
Heading into the fourth it was only a seven point game, and the main reason for this was ironically because of Eric Maynor, and of course Damian Lillard. These two players combined for 29 points and 10 assists. Both of these players provided huge three point shots throughout the game, and at times were the only offense the Blazers had. LaMarcus Aldrige was virtually a non factor as he only managed 10 points on 3-14 shooting. This was key for the Thunder, because the Blazers in general run their offense through him, and by shutting him down it really threw off the whole rhythm of their offense. Serge Ibaka had an absolutely fantastic 2nd half, he finished with 16 points and 5 blocks for the game and all 16 points came in the second half. When Ibaka is shooting the ball well the Thunder offense becomes extremely lethal, as was shown in tonight’s game. The Blazers decided to leave Ibaka open on screen’s for Durant and Westbrook, and Ibaka made them pay.
The Thunder just took over in the fourth quarter. The defensive intensity was off the charts and on offense, the ball was moving like I haven’t seen in a long time. Of course Durant got his points, as he finished with 24 points on 10-17 shooting and Westbrook finished with 21 on 9-18 shooting. But this was really a total team effort, OKC finished with 23 assists but it really seemed like a lot more than that. When someone had an open shot, they turned it down to get an even more open shot for one of their teammates. Kevin Martin and Reggie Jackson combined for 17 points and 8 assists, and they really ran the show when KD and Westbrook were out of the game. Perk had his usual stare-downs with the refs and Thabo Sefolosha struggled once again on the offensive end.
Player of the Game: I would give this to the entire Thunder squad. They played like an actual team, and as they showed in the fourth quarter they are next to unstoppable when they play like this.