Stats & Info: Oklahoma City Thunder

Spurs advance to NBA Finals

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)Gregg Popovich (left) and Tim Duncan (right) advanced to the NBA Finals for the sixth time.
Game 6 was different than any other contest in the 2014 Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. After the first five games were decided by an average margin of 20.4 points per game, Game 6 was decided in overtime. After 23 lead changes and ties over the first five games, Game 6 featured 31 lead changes and ties. And that was just the beginning.

Spurs share the ball well, Thunder do not
The Spurs won the game by sharing the basketball, while the Thunder got 95 percent of their points from four players: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka. Only five players scored for the Thunder in Game 6, and those players attempted 78 of the team's 82 field goals. All 11 players who logged time for the Spurs in Game 6 shot the ball, and all but one scored.

San Antonio scored 51 bench points compared to just 5 for Oklahoma City, with the 46-point bench differential setting the mark for the largest in any game this season (regular season and playoffs).

A breakdown of each team’s half-court offense illustrates the offensive contrast. The Spurs had 288 passes on 105 half-court plays, while the Thunder had 137 on 100 half-court plays. One one hand, the 1.4 passes per play for the Thunder in Game 6 was their lowest of the series. On the other hand, the 2.7 passes per play for the Spurs was just above their average (2.5). Oklahoma City had 62 plays with one or fewer passes, while San Antonio had 31.

Thunder duo still dynamic
Lost in the shadow of defeat was a tremendous scoring effort from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both scored at least 30 points in the same game for the eighth time in their postseason careers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that surpasses Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal for the second-most such games by a pair of teammates in NBA playoff history.

Westbrook had another stellar game in his own right. For the second time this postseason, Westbrook posted at least 30 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in the same game, joining Michael Jordan as the only players with multiple 30-5-5-5 games in a single postseason. Jordan did so twice, in both 1989 (4) and 1990 (3).

Spurs reach NBA Finals
For the first time in franchise history, the Spurs will make back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals. This marks the sixth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, all of which have come in the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich era.

Lurking in the NBA Finals are familiar foes in the Miami Heat, who defeated the Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals in seven games. This marks the first NBA Finals rematch since the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz met in consecutive Finals in 1997 and 1998.

San Antonio displayed great resilience, becoming the first team since 1988-89 Pistons to make it back to the NBA Finals after losing a Game 7 in the Finals the prior year. Spurs fans are hoping they emulate the success of the Bad Boys, as the Pistons won the 1989 Finals after suffering that Game 7 defeat in 1988.

Top stats to know: Thunder at Spurs

May, 19, 2014
May 19
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Getty ImagesTim Duncan and Kevin Durant are four wins away from advancing to the NBA Finals.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs begin their Western Conference Finals series tonight, the second time in the last three seasons that they have met in this round.

Back in 2012, the Thunder defeated the Spurs in six games in the Conference Finals, winning the final four games after losing the first two. What are the key storylines heading into this year's matchup?

Impact of Ibaka’s injury
Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury, leaving the Thunder with a big hole in the middle.

How much will Ibaka’s absence hurt the Thunder against the Spurs?

The Thunder are eight points better per 48 minutes this postseason with Serge Ibaka on the court compared to when Ibaka has been on the bench.

If there's a silver lining to Ibaka getting injured, it's that the team stumbled upon the pairing of Nick Collison and Steven Adams.

The two played on the floor together for 16 minutes in Game 6 and the Thunder outscored the Clippers by 16 when Collison and Adams shared the floor. Prior to Game 6, Collison and Adams had played on the floor together for just 33 minutes this postseason.

With or without Ibaka, the Spurs were likely going to put the Thunder's interior defense to the test. According to NBA.com Player Tracking Data, the Spurs have been one of the best teams getting the ball inside during the playoffs.

The Spurs are averaging 28.1 drives per game this postseason, third-most in the NBA. The Spurs are also averaging 19.2 "close" touches (within 12 feet of basket) per game this postseason, second-most in the NBA.

San Antonio was one of the most efficient teams around the basket during the regular season, shooting 58.1 percent inside the paint, which ranked third in the NBA. But no team slowed them down better than the Thunder. With Serge Ibaka on court, the Spurs shot just 47.1 percent inside the paint.

Thunder regular season sweep
The Thunder took all four meetings against the Spurs in the regular season, winning by an average of nearly 10 points per game.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the fourth instance in NBA history where one team was 4-0 or better versus another team in the regular season and then met in the Conference Finals.

Each of the three previous times, the team that swept the regular season won the playoff series as well.

Importance of Game 1
If history is any indicator, the Thunder could be in trouble tonight.

They have lost 10 straight Game 1s on the road, with their last such win coming in the 1992 Western Conference First Round at Golden State. The Spurs have won nine straight Game 1s, the fifth longest streak in NBA history, according to Elias.

The Spurs are 22-4 in best-of-7 series when winning Game 1 in the Gregg Popovich era (6-7 when they don’t); the Thunder have a 5-2 series record when winning Game 1 since moving to OKC (3-2 when they don’t).

The excitement factor of NBA playoff series

April, 30, 2014
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The two tables below show an alternative way to look at the excitement levels of a couple NBA playoff series, which better captures the excitement of the series over traditional stats.

What is the Excitement Factor?

Excitement: Amount of change in win probability during the game.

Winner Chance: Average in-game win probability that the eventual winner had during the game.






Overall, the average game in the Portland-Houston series has had a total change of in-game win probability of 981 percent. This is higher than the 804 percent in the Memphis-OKC series.

Beyond this, the Portland-Houston series also had two games where the team that was losing much of the game came back to win (Games 1 and 4), whereas the winners of every game in the Memphis-OKC series generally controlled their games.

Despite having four overtime games to “just three” for Portland-Houston, the Memphis-OKC series hasn’t been quite as close or “exciting” as the Portland-Houston series.

The top 6 most exciting games of the playoffs thus far have been from these two series. (No. 7 was the Vince Carter buzzer-beater.)

The average excitement of 981 percent for the Portland-Houston series is higher than any single game of any series outside of these two.

Next Level nuggets from Saturday

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
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It was a wild opening to the NBA playoffs. Three of the four games were won by road teams, just the second time in NBA history that three road teams won Game 1 of the First Round on the first day of the postseason. It also happened in 1996.

Playoff games are all about matchups. Here are the biggest ones from the four Saturday games.

Nets 94, Raptors 87

Paul Pierce
Pierce
The story of this game was Paul Pierce, who scored nine of his 15 points in the 4th quarter. Seven of those nine points were scored when Patrick Patterson was the primary defender.

DeMar DeRozan, however, had a much more disappointing day. He was 3-for-13 from the floor, including 1-for-9 on jump shots.

DeRozan averaged 9.6 points per game on jump shots during the regular season, tied for seventh best in the NBA..

Warriors 109, Clippers 105

Chris Paul scored 28 points Saturday, but struggled with Klay Thompson as his primary defender. Paul missed his first eight shots when guarded by Thompson, who also forced three of his six turnovers.

But Doc Rivers and the Clippers shouldn't want Paul to score that much. They now have seven wins and five losses this season when Paul scores 25 points or more. They're 37-12 when Paul scores fewer than 25.

Hawks 101, Pacers 93

Jeff Teague helped to snap the Hawks eight-game road playoff losing streak, scoring 28 points, a new playoff career high. 78 percent of his field goal attempts came on drives, and he scored 20 points on those shots (including free throws).

Teague averaged just 5.6 points per game on drives during the regular season.

Roy Hibbert, however, continued to struggle. Hibbert was 4-for-9 from the floor Saturday and has not made a shot outside the paint since April 4.

In his first 77 games this season, he shot 40 percent on such shots.

Thunder 100, Grizzlies 86

Kevin Durant
Durant
Kevin Durant had 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. That makes nine straight postseason games where Durant had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NBA history.

The only Grizzlies player that could contain Durant Saturday was Tony Allen. He held Durant to 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting (36 percent) Saturday, but Durant scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting (73 percent) against everyone else.

But we all knew Durant is good and would be tough to stop. What we didn't know was how bad the Grizzlies would be outside of the paint.

Memphis missed its first 18 shots from outside the paint Saturday before hitting their last attempt of the second quarter. The Thunder outscored the Grizzlies 23-3 outside the paint in the first half, making up most of Memphis' 22-point halftime deficit.

Two of the West's best face off in L.A.

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
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Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Durant's streak might be over, but he will look to get the best of the Clippers Wednesday night.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be in L.A. to face the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. These teams have been two of the NBA's best this season, but lately they have been heading in different directions.

The Clippers are 18-3 over their past 21 games, outscoring opponents by 10.6 points per game. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, entered the All-Star break at 43-12 but is 13-9 since.

The Thunder have lost three of their past four road games, whereas the Clippers have won nine of their past 10 home games.

The streak is over, but still much to be done
Kevin Durant’s streak of scoring at least 25 points ended Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings. The 41-game streak is the third-longest single-season streak in NBA history.

But there is still plenty for Durant to accomplish this season.

He is averaging 32.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Durant is seeking to become the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 32 points, 7 boards and 5 assists in a single season.

Leading Carmelo Anthony by 4.5 points per game, Durant is a virtual lock to become the fifth player in NBA history to win at least four scoring titles. His per-game lead over Anthony would be the third-largest gap between first and second in scoring average dating to 1969-70.

A new vibe in L.A.
The Clippers’ first season in Los Angeles was 1984-85. From that point through the 2010-11 season, they posted a .349 win percentage -- worst in the league during that span.

Since trading for Chris Paul, they have won nearly 67 percent of their games, the fourth-best mark in the NBA. And this season is no different.

Last year, the Clippers set a franchise record with 56 wins. They are at 55 wins with four games to play this season.

Thunder cooling off?
A main reason for the drop-off from the Thunder's pre-All-Star pace has been Oklahoma City's defensive struggles.

The Thunder allowed 99.3 points per 100 possessions before the break (third best), but have yielded 104.6 since (14th). Opponents are cashing in at the 3-point line, making 9.7 per game on an efficient 39.5 percent shooting, both of which rank second highest in the league during that span.

In losses, the defense has failed Oklahoma City even more. The Thunder are allowing 116.2 points per game in losses since the All-Star break.

Tuesday night, the Thunder beat the Kings, but that doesn't necessarily bode well for them. Oklahoma City is 7-6 on zero days' rest this season.

Series matchup
The Clippers are 2-1 against the Thunder this season, but Durant has had his way with L.A.

Durant is averaging 34.3 points and 9.3 assists in the three games against the Clippers this season. He has scored 30 or more points in five of the past six meetings between the teams.

Lakers show Thunder 18-point lead not safe

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
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Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesJodie Meeks scored a career-high 42 points against the Thunder on Sunday in Los Angeles.
For the first time in nearly two years, the Oklahoma City Thunder wasted an 18-point lead.

Behind Jodie Meeks’ career-high 42 points, the Los Angeles Lakers dug out of a big first-half hole and beat the Thunder 114-110 on Sunday. The last time the Thunder had squandered an 18-point lead was April 22, 2012 – also against the Lakers, also in Los Angeles.

After Oklahoma City took a 46-28 lead with 7:39 left in the second quarter, the Lakers went on a 59-31 run through the end of the third quarter.

Quiet triple-double
Conspicuous by his absence during the Lakers’ run was Kevin Durant. He was 2-of-5 shooting for seven points from the Thunder’s high-water mark to the end of the third quarter, which ended with the Lakers leading 87-75.

Still, Durant finished with 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. It was his third triple-double this season, which equals the number he had in his first six seasons combined.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time that the team with a conference’s worst record beat the team with that conference’s best record in March or later since April 18, 2001. In that instance, the Chicago Bulls (14-67) defeated the Philadelphia 76ers (56-25) in the final game of the season. NBA MVP Allen Iverson did not play.

Meeks in great company
The Lakers scored 15 points in transition – all by Meeks, who averaged 4.5 transition points entering the game. Meeks (11-of-18 from the field, 14-of-14 from the free-throw line) is the fourth Lakers player since the merger (1976-77) to score 40 or more points while shooting at least 10 free throws without a miss. The others are Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Thunder entered Sunday’s game shooting 42.3 percent in isolation situations, the third-best percentage in the NBA. On Sunday, the Thunder struggled in isolation, shooting 14 percent (1-of-7).

The Thunder hadn't allowed a 40-point scorer in the first 61 games of the season. In the last two games, Gerald Green of Phoenix and Meeks each topped 40. The last time the Thunder/SuperSonics franchise allowed 40 points to players in back-to-back games was December 2000: Antawn Jamison of Golden State (51) and Jerry Stackhouse of Detroit (41).

Clippers run away from Thunder

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
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Kevin Durant did something that he had never done in his career before today, but it was not enough as the Clippers beat the Thunder 125-117 in Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon.

The Clippers handed the Thunder their second straight home loss, just the second time that OKC has lost consecutive games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena this season.

Los Angeles avoided its third straight loss and still has not lost three games in a row this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the furthest into any season that the Braves/Clippers franchise has gone without a three-game losing streak.

What were the keys to the Clippers second win in their last six games against the Thunder?

Clippers on the run
The Clippers were at their best when pushing the pace, tying a season-high with 34 fastbreak points, including 27 in the first half. They made 13 of 14 shots on the break, turning it over just once. The Clippers are averaging 17.8 fastbreak points per game, third-most in the league.

It was the most fastbreak points the Thunder have allowed in more than five years, since the Phoenix Suns had 37 against them on February 20, 2009.

Paul dishes to Crawford, Barnes
Chris Paul created 30 points off 12 assists Sunday. According to NBA.com player-tracking data, Paul leads the NBA creating 25.1 points per game.

The main beneficiaries from his assists were Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes who knocked down five shots apiece.

Crawford and Barnes combined for 33 points from behind the arc Sunday, finding particular success when those shots were guarded. Crawford shot 5 of 8 and Barnes shot 4 of 5. Entering the game, the duo had shot a combined 33.5 percent on three-pointers.

A first for Durant
Durant finished the game with 42 points and 10 assists, the first time he’s ever reach those totals in a game.

He is just the second player in Thunder/Sonics history with a 40-10 game, joining Gary Payton, who had two such games according to Elias.

Durant now has nine 40-point games this season. No other player even has five of those.

Durant’s aggressiveness keyed his scoring outburst, driving to the basket 11 times while scoring 15 of his 40 points on those drives. Entering the game, Durant was averaging only six drive points on 5.7 drives per game.

Thunder go cold from mid-range
The Thunder made only 7 of 24 attempts from the mid-range area, tied for their third-worst percentage in a game this season. The Thunder lead the league in mid-range shooting this season, making 44 percent of their shots.

Los Angeles has been effective in limiting the Thunder's mid-range accuracy this season, as two of the Thunder’s four worst shooting games from this area have come against the Clippers.

Top stats to know: Heat at Thunder

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
1:08
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Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsRussell Westbrook is close to rejoining Kevin Durant in the Thunder lineup

Russell Westbrook is expected to return Thursday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Miami Heat for the second time this season. The Thunder defeated the Heat 112-95 January 29 without the help of Westbrook, and his return would only complicate matters more for the Heat.

Westbrook's impact

The Thunder initially struggled when Westbrook went down earlier this season. In the team’s first 10 games without him starting December 27, the Thunder went 5-5 and averaged 100.4 points per game.

The Thunder won 10 straight following that 5-5 stretch and have won 15 of the last 17 games en route to an NBA best 43-12 (.782) record.

Despite the recent hot streak, Westbrook will be a welcome sight in the lineup. The Thunder have gone 21-4 (.840) this season with Westbrook active, and have averaged 5.5 more points per game when he plays.

Although the Thunder score more with Westbrook in the lineup, his teammate Kevin Durant does not.

Durant has averaged 34.0 points per game this season with Westbrook out compared to 28.6 points per game with Westbrook in the lineup. It might be a dip for Durant, but his scoring average with Westbrook would still lead the NBA this season.

Durant vs James

LeBron James is 13-4 in his career in games against Kevin Durant (including playoffs) but the two have nearly gone point-for-point in their matchups.

Durant has averaged only 0.7 points per game more than James when going head-to-head in the regular season. When the two met earlier this season James scored 34 points to Durant’s 33.

James was the primary defender on Durant for most of the first matchup this season. Although Durant’s average shot was 20.8 feet away from the basket when guarded by James in the game, he still managed to shoot 9 of 17 (52.9 percent) with 23 points on those possessions.

Durant didn’t guard James as frequently on the other end of the floor but was effective when he did. James shot 2 of 6 and scored eight points total against Durant with an average shot 18.3 feet from the basket. When James was guarded by anyone else, he went 10 of 14 with 26 points and an average shot distance of 10.4 feet.

Road warriors

The trip to Oklahoma City is the last of a six-game road trip for the Heat. The Heat have gone 4-1 on the trip so far, with the only loss coming against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz were the only team on the trip with a record outside the top ten in the NBA.

James has been leading the charge for the Heat over the stretch, averaging 31.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists the last five games.

If the Thunder are able to beat the Heat again, they will be the third team in the “Big 3” era to sweep the Heat in a season series with at least two games played. The previous two, the 2010-11 Mavericks and the 2010-11 Bulls, each met the Heat in the playoffs that year.

Big questions for the NBA's second half

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
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With the NBA at the All-Star break, big questions loom for the second half of the season.

We dive into some of those topics and provide possible answers:

Is the Heat defense strong enough to win another title?
Heat opponents have an effective field goal percentage (which takes into account the added value of a 3-pointer) of 51.6% this season, tied for the 2nd-worst in the league.

Since the three-point line was adopted (1979-80), no team that has allowed an effective field goal percentage of 50% or higher and gone on to win the title that season (267 teams).

The Heat are allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions, tied for 14th in the NBA. Although results from last season suggest they could turn it around.

Their defensive efficiency ranked 11th in the NBA at the All-Star break last season, but 4th after the All-Star Break.

Are the Blazers serious contenders in the West?
Portland has lost seven of its last eight games against teams at or above .500 after starting the season 12-5 against such teams.

Their play down the stretch has been a complete turnaround from earlier in the season.

Each of their last three losses were decided by five or fewer points. They are 3-5 in such games in the new year after starting 8-3.

Damian Lillard had three game-winning shots in the final 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime in the first three months of the season, most in the NBA. Since then he and the Blazers have tailed off in clutch moments (defined as the final five minutes, score within five points of 4th Qtr/OT).

Will Carmelo have enough in the tank to get the Knicks into the postseason?
Carmelo Anthony is averaging a career-high 38.8 minutes per game this season.
Carmelo Anthony
Anthony
That is perhaps one reason why he is shooting a career-low 35.7 percent in the 4th quarter or overtime this season.

He is 0-of-8 on game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempts in the final 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime this season, and 0-of-12 over the last two seasons. He was 5-of-10 on such shots in his first two seasons with the Knicks.

New York has suffered as a result. They are 1-6 in games decided by one possession (final score within three points) this season.

Is Durant really the NBA’s best closer and the MVP favorite?
LeBron James is shooting 52.2 percent in clutch time this season, compared with Durant’s 34.2 percent in those situations.

James has the best field goal percentage among 20 players with at least 50 field goal attempts in clutch time, and the next-closest player is shooting 42.9 percent (Lillard).

Will Dwight Howard be dominant enough for a Rockets title run?
The Rockets are on a seven-game win streak, the longest active streak in the NBA,
Dwight Howard
Howard
including wins against the Spurs, Suns and Mavericks. Dwight Howard is averaging 24.5 points per game on 60.0 percent shooting during the streak.

The Rockets are outscoring opponents by 15.3 points per 100 possessions with Dwight Howard on the court in those 7 games, and have been outscored by 4.5 points per 100 possessions with him off.

However, Dwight’s season has been far from eye popping. His player efficiency rating (PER) of 21.7 ranks 10th among current starting power forwards and centers this season.

His PER was fourth in the NBA (25.4), and best among power forwards and centers when the Magic made the NBA Finals in 2008-09.

Dwight Howard may have been given a slight pass last season given the drama in L.A. and coming off back surgery, but his overall performance has not improved much in Houston. He is averaging 1.7 more points per game, but with roughly the same field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks per game as last season.

--Contributions from John Parolin, Will Cohen, Sunny Saini, Steve Martinez & Doug Clawson

Durant keeps up the 40-point barrage

February, 9, 2014
Feb 9
6:36
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Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Kevin Durant-Carmelo Anthony matchup was one-sided on Sunday.
These types of games are becoming almost ordinary for Kevin Durant.

Durant had 41 points in Sunday’s win over the New York Knicks, giving him four 40-point games in his last 13 games played. No one else in the NBA has that many 40-point games all season.

There have been 18 40-point games in the NBA since Jan. 4. Durant has six of them.

Durant now has 34 40-point games in his career. Since the first season after the NBA-ABA merger, only three players had more such games before turning 26- Michael Jordan (74), LeBron James (42) and Tracy McGrady 36.

The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Durant became the first player in NBA history to have at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a game against the Knicks. Durant has scored at least 25 points in 10 straight games against the Knicks. The only other active player who has had that sort of scoring streak against them is Kobe Bryant.

Durant took advantage of a Knicks defense that allows the most points per play of any NBA team on pick-and-rolls. He was 8 for 13 from the field with 20 of his 41 points coming off pick-and-rolls.

Durant has widened his scoring lead considerably of late. He led the NBA by 1.5 points per game on Dec. 1, by 2.3 points on Jan. 1 and by 4.1 as of Sunday after outscoring the second-place scorer, Carmelo Anthony, 41-15 in the win on Sunday.

Durant played a significant role in holding Anthony down. Anthony shot 3 for 11 from the field when guarded by Durant en route to a season-low point total.

This marked only the second time that Durant's team has beaten Anthony's in 13 meetings.

Thunder, Durant can't miss in win vs. Nets

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
11:28
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ESPN Stats & InformationThe Thunder shot 63.6 percent on Friday, their highest field goal percentage since moving to OKC.
It turns out that the only thing that could stop Kevin Durant was a blowout. His streak of 30-point games ended at 12 on Friday night as he scored only 26 points in the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s 120-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Durant played just 30 minutes and didn’t step on the court in the fourth quarter as the Thunder cruised past the Nets, leading by as many as 32 points at the Barclays Center.

Despite not reaching the 30-point threshold, Durant had arguably the most efficient scoring night of his career. It was the first time that he made at least 10 field goals and shot more than 80 percent from the field in a game.

Durant took advantage of Shaun Livingston, going 9-of-10 with 22 points and one turnover when defended by him. He was at his best shooting from distance, making all five of his attempts from 15 feet and outside against the Nets.

He completed his dominant month with 575 points, the most in January since George Gervin had 590 in 1980. The last player to score that many points in any month was Kobe Bryant, who had 578 in March 2006.

Ibaka was Sergical
Durant was not the only efficient player in a Thunder uniform on Friday. Serge Ibaka scored 25 points on 12-for-12 shooting, the most makes without a miss by any player this season.

He did nearly all of his damage around the basket, with an average shot distance of 7.4 feet, almost three feet closer than his season average of 10.2 feet.

The last player to go 12-for-12 or better in a game was Nene Hilario in 2009 against the Utah Jazz, and the last player to do that in a road game was Karl Malone in 1999 at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Thunder shot 63.6 percent from the field, the highest field goal percentage by any team this season and the best for the franchise since Jan. 21, 2002, against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Stat of the night
The Nets grabbed just 17 rebounds in the loss, the fewest rebounds by any team in a game since rebounds became an official stat in the 1950-51 season. For perspective, entering Friday, 42 different players have had at least one 17-rebound game this season. And Kevin Love had 16 by himself on Friday night.

Thunder dial long distance to down Heat

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
10:51
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Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsKevin Durant and the Thunder are all smiles after beating the Heat in Miami.
On the road and facing an 18-point deficit in the first quarter against the defending champs? No problem for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who rallied to beat the Miami Heat 112-95 on Wednesday night.

How rare was the win? The 18-point comeback marked the second-largest for the Thunder since moving to Oklahoma City, and it was just the fourth time the Heat have blown a lead of at least 18 points in the Big 3 era spanning the last four seasons.

In the last 15 seasons, 624 teams trailed by at least 18 points in the first quarter. The Thunder are just the third team to surge back and win that game by at least 15 points. The only other teams to do this were the Golden State Warriors at the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1999 and the Dallas Mavericks at the Toronto Raptors in 2011.

What were the keys to victory for the Thunder, who extended their win streak to nine games?

Durant cannot be stopped
Kevin Durant continued his scoring spree with his 12th consecutive 30-point game. That’s a streak that neither LeBron James and Michael Jordan have been able to match. The last players to do it were Kobe Bryant (16 straight) and Tracy McGrady (14) in the 2002-03 season.

Durant took advantage of James guarding him, going 9 for 17 with 23 points when LeBron was his defender.

He also excelled on the break, scoring 10 of the team’s 24 points in transition. Durant now has 270 transition points this season, third-most in the league.

With the win, Durant improved 4-13 in his career in head-to-head matchups vs LeBron, and helped the Thunder earn their first victory against the Heat since Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals.

Long-distance shooting
The Thunder dominated the Heat from beyond the arc, making 16 of 23 three-pointers, compared to just 3 of 19 for Miami.

The Thunder moved the ball well around the perimeter, assisting on 13 of their 16 made 3-point field goals. Entering the game, the Thunder had assisted on a league-low 71.7 percent of their made 3-pointers.

It was the Thunder’s most 3-pointers made since moving to Oklahoma City and their most in a game since February 23, 2005 at the Hornets.

Turnovers
The Heat committed 21 turnovers, one shy of their season-high, and were outscored 25-14 in points off turnovers. Oklahoma City is now averaging 18.1 points off turnovers per game, the sixth-most in the NBA.

Miami really struggled to hold onto the ball in the second quarter, turning it over seven times, which led to 12 Oklahoma City points. Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade combined for five of those seven miscues in the second quarter.

All-Star cast: The case for Ibaka, Jordan

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
5:07
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Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsSerge Ibaka has made a name for himself as one of the best shot blockers in the league.
The NBA will announce its full All-Star Game rosters on Thursday, and a number of players have made a case to make their first appearance in the game. ESPN Stats & Information is taking a five-part look at these players.

1. The Future, Part I (John Wall and Anthony Davis)
2. The Future, Part II (DeMarcus Cousins, Lance Stephenson, Damian Lillard)
3. Emerging Talent, Part I (DeMar DeRozan, Ty Lawson)
4. Emerging Talent, Part II (Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan)
5. The Veterans (Mike Conley, Arron Afflalo, Kyle Lowry)

Here is Part II of our look at emerging talent, where we explore the cases for Serge Ibaka and DeAndre Jordan to be named to the All-Star Game.

Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka is referred to as “Iblocka” by his teammates because of his elite shot-blocking abilities. Ibaka ranks third in the NBA this season, swatting 2.6 shots per game.

Ibaka leads the NBA with 115 blocks this season and has led the NBA in blocked shots in each of the last three seasons. Since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74, the only other player to do that was Dikembe Mutombo, who led the NBA in total blocks five straight seasons from 1993-94 to 1997-98.

Among players who defend at least five field goal attempts at the rim per game and have played at least 30 games this season, Ibaka ranks fourth in the league in opponents’ field goal percentage (43.2 percent), according to NBA.com player-tracking data.

Injuries to Russell Westbrook have also caused Ibaka to take a larger role in the Thunder offense. Ibaka’s usage percentage of nearly 20 percent is a career-high, as are his 14.6 points per game.

DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is averaging a career high in several categories, including minutes per game (35.5), points per game (9.5), rebounds per game (13.9) and blocks per game (2.4).

Currently, he finds himself in the top five in three major statistical categories. He leads the league in rebounds per game (13.9), field goal percentage (64.5 percent), and is fourth in blocks per game (2.4). The only player to average at least 13 rebounds, two blocks and shoot 60 percent from the field in the same season was Dwight Howard in 2009-10.

Jordan has four games of 20 or more rebounds this season, tied with Dwight Howard for the league high. Prior to this season Jordan had three 20-rebound games in 351 career games.

Jordan is tied with Andre Drummond for the league lead with 5.5 contested rebounds per game (contested rebounds, being ones in which an opponent is within 3.5 feet of the rebounder). His 651 total rebounds this season (in 47 games) is already 39 more than he had all of last season (82 games).

Jordan is currently on a 24-game streak of double-digit rebounds, which is seven more than the second longest streak of the season (Joakim Noah).

Durant stays hot, scores 36 in win vs. Spurs

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
12:05
AM ET

ESPN Stats & Information
Kevin Durant continued his scoring binge Wednesday with a 36-point effort in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 111-105 win against the San Antonio Spurs.

It was Durant's ninth straight game with at least 30 points, tied for the third longest streak in a single season in the past 10 seasons. Only LeBron James (10 games in 2005-06) and Kobe Bryant (also 10 games, in 2012-13) have had longer such streaks in the past decade.

Durant also added seven rebounds and five assists -- his seventh straight game with at least 30 points, four rebounds and four assists. According to the Elias Sports Bureau research, he's one of eight players in NBA history to reach those marks in each of seven straight games in a single season.

The others? Oscar Robertson (seven times), James (four times), Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and Tracy McGrady.

But Durant's night wasn't completely flawless. He committed a career-high 11 turnovers, tied with Stephen Curry for most in any game this season.

Still, the night had to feel somewhat cathartic. Durant's torrid stretch continued despite facing a Spurs team against whom he had been averaging 22.4 points in their previous nine meetings.

Much of his damage came as the ball handler in pick-and-roll plays Wednesday, scoring 16 points in such situations -- nearly triple what his scoring average had been on such plays entering the night (5.5).

And he continued his recent trend of finishing in style. After starting the final quarter 1-for-5 from the field, Durant made his final two attempts, a pair of 3-pointers that helped stretch the Thunder's lead to 10 with 1:08 remaining.

In his past four games, Durant has averaged 10 points in the fourth quarter on 59 percent from the field -- and he has made 8 of his 11 3-point attempts.

Durant unstoppable scoring career-high 54

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
1:41
AM ET

ESPN Stats & InformationKevin Durant missed just nine shots from the field in scoring a career-high 54 points Friday night.
Almost a year to the day that he scored 52 points on Jan. 18, 2013 (at that point a career high), Kevin Durant put up 54 as the Oklahoma City Thunder knocked off the Golden State Warriors 127-121.

In the past two weeks, Durant has put up the three highest-scoring games in the NBA this season. In addition to his 54 points Friday, he has two 48-point games -- against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 4 and against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 7.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Durant has been the first player to score 50 points in a game in each of the past three seasons. In that three-year span, the rest of the NBA has combined for four 50-point games, while no player has more than one.

Filling the void
Durant has really picked up his scoring in Russell Westbrook’s absence. With Westbrook in the lineup, Durant averaged 28.6 points per game. Without him in 15 games this season, Durant is averaging 33.9 points per game.

Drive for success
Durant scored 11 points and had four assists on 10 drives Friday. Entering Friday, he averaged only 5.7 drives per game, accounting for 7.8 of his team’s points per game, according to player-tracking data on NBA.com.

Green means go
The Warriors used multiple defenders against Durant to no avail. The league’s leading scorer found particular success Friday against Draymond Green, scoring 19 of his 25 second-half points on Green. Durant shot 81.8 percent against Green and 58.8 percent against all other defenders.

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