Thunder Earns 11th Straight Victory

The Oklahoma City Thunder evened its series with the San Antonio Spurs with a 107-93 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena Monday. Serge Ibaka led all scorers with 25 and led all rebounders with 17.

GAME NOTES

-Serge Ibaka scored 25 points and pulled down 17 boards. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook didn’t have their best scoring performances. Instead, OKC relied on Ibaka who took three more shots than Durant.

-OKC’s defense stepped up in the third period. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan combined for just 11 points in the second half and Parker had just one assist.

-Serge Ibaka was asked after the game if he played better because he was motivated by Stephen Jackson’s tweets earlier this month. His response: “I respect your job, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

-Russell Westbrook was asked the same question about Ibaka. Westbrook’s response: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

-Gregg Popovich sat his starters in the fourth quarter after OKC opened an 18-point lead. Manu Ginobili didn’t play either due to a left quad contusion.

-The Thunder moved to a league-best 20-4 while San Antonio dropped to 19-7. The two teams are heading in opposite directions as OKC has won 11-straight and the Spurs have dropped four of their last six.

 

QUOTES

-“It’s hard,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after the game. “I tell people this all the time, I couldn’t do what he’s (Ibaka) done-go to this country and produce like he’s producing here. It’s a credit to him and the organization.”

-“He’s (Ibaka) gifted,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “You have a four-man who can spread the court and shoot it like that, it makes it tougher on everybody. That’s why there’s so many shooting four’s in the league.”

-“I didn’t want to play him (Stephen Jackson) that many minutes, but he’s a hard guy to get off the floor,” Popovich said. “He likes to be out there, but we finally convinced him to get off the floor. After all this time off, 18 was plenty, probably a little too much.”

 

STATS

-Serge Ibaka: 25 points / 17 rebounds / 3 blocks

-Kevin Martin: 20 points (7-10 shooting)

-Thunder: 49 rebounds, Spurs: 37 rebounds

-Thunder starters: 77 points, Spurs starters: 49 points

 

Why the Spurs Lost:

-It might have had something to do with the absence of Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, but the main reason they lost is because they stopped scoring in the third quarter. They only scored 16 in the third while Oklahoma City poured in 29.

Why the Thunder Won:

-Serge Ibaka. If it weren’t for Ibaka, the Thunder could’ve very easily lost to San Antonio for the second time this season. Durant and Westbrook didn’t have it going, but Ibaka stepped up and carried the team. He led the way the entire game and was the most intense player on the court during his 38 minutes.

Thunder Cruise To 45-point Win

REACTION: OKC: 114 / BOBCATS: 69

Box Score

-The Thunder handed Charlotte a 45-point loss at the Chesapeake Arena Monday in Oklahoma City. OKC led by 54 at one point in the second half thanks to six players scoring in double-digits including a combined 32 points from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

GAME NOTES:

-Charlotte opened with Jeff Taylor guarding Durant. It didn’t work out too well. Durant scored six points on 3-4 shooting with Taylor guarding him the majority of the quarter. Durant might’ve scored more early had he not been shocked by Mike Dunlap’s decision.

-Thabo Sefolosha nailed two three’s early in the first quarter when it seemed like OKC was still asleep. He actually jacked up six of OKC’s eight three’s in the first 12 minutes. Let’s just say Charlotte’s team defense was a little lackluster because all eight shots were completely uncontested.

-Let’s face it, OKC’s starters could’ve taken the night off and the team still might’ve pulled out a win, but it was nice to see Durant and Sefolosha’s activity on defense early in the game. Thabo made a great defensive play when he picked a driving Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s pocket as the rookie tried to drive on him. Durant moved well on defense early as well and finished the first period with two blocks.

-Durant played with the second team early in the second quarter and they had success passing the ball. It was one of those unfamiliar occasions when the ball hardly bounced off the Chesapeake Arena floor. It was open shot after open shot with KD, Eric Maynor, Kevin Martin, Collison and Thabeet sharing the rock better than the team has all season.

-Maynor and Thabeet scored eight of OKC’s 13 bench points in the second quarter. Each player would probably start for Charlotte. OK, Kemba Walker might keep Maynor on the bench, but Thabeet seriously might be better than Brendan Haywood. Haywood scored two points and pulled down six rebounds in the period while Thabeet scored four and pulled down four boards in half the time.

-Westbrook threw down a massive slam at the end of the second quarter that gave OKC a 40-point lead going into halftime.  Check it out. 

-It started to get ugly in the third quarter. Eventually, OKC extended their lead to 54 points and had the Bobcats on pace to break the record for least amount of points in a game (49: 1999 Chicago Bulls). Scott Brooks pulled the starters with nearly seven minutes left in the quarter and finished the game with a rotation of Thabeet, Maynor, Martin, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb.

-There’s not much to say about the rest of the game. Let’s call it what it really was: garbage time. The Thunder will go on its way and the Bobcats will go on their’s as well. Plus, we all know what Wednesday brings. The return of the beard.

 

REPORT CARD

-OFFENSE: A : Can’t argue with shooting over 50% and a +15 turnover/assist ratio.

-DEFENSE: A+ : Charlotte shot 29% and OKC pulled down 45 defensive rebounds.

-STARTERS: A+ : That +198 statistic is a little describing.

-BENCH: A : The bench played well, especially when Durant was with them in the rotation.

-FANS: B : The fans were loud at points in the game, but who can blame them after that game.

 

STATISTIC-ULAR FORTITUDE

-The Thunder’s 45-point win is the largest win since moving to Oklahoma City.

-OKC’s starters were a combined +198 in the +/-

-Charlotte shot 29.1% (23-79) from the floor including 27.3% (6-22) from three-point range.

-Kemba Walker: 0-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 0-2 FT, 2 TO, -31

 

PLAYER OF THE GAME: THABO SEFOLOSHA 

-Sefolosha finished with 14 points and went 4-8 from long range. His +/- was a game-high +45 in just over 21 minutes. He also pulled down four rebounds, dished out three assists and had one steal.

PLAYED A TERRIBLE GAME: KEMBA WALKER

-See Statistic-ular Fortitude above. 

ROOKIE WATCH: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

-I really wasn’t impressed with Kidd-Gilchrist, but then again, there wasn’t anything to be impressed with the Bobcats anyway. He finished the game with just eight points in 22 minutes and pulled down three boards. He got Serge Ibaka off his feet with a great head-fake on one play early, but other than that he was average offensively. He wasn’t allowed to guard KD in the first quarter, which tells me Mike Dunlap doesn’t have much faith in his defense yet. He has only played 12 games, but his first trip to OKC was still well below average. GRADE: D

 

SCOTT BROOKS QUOTES

-Open: “They had a bad night. Let’s face it, this team has been playing good basketball to start the season. We will all go through a game like this. It happens.”

-On Thabeet’s development: “When we signed him over the summer we had to work on a few things in order for him to have success. One was conditioning and getting in better shape. He’s done that. It’s a credit to our staff.”

-On mixed rotations: “I’m looking for lineups that get steps and also match-ups. Certain guys play better against certain players and I have a luxury with Kevin (Durant) because I can put him at the two, three or four.

 

NEXT GAME: Wednesday vs. Houston Rockets (6-7) 7:00 PM CT