It took 48 minutes for the Thunder to do it, but they did it. They finally clinched the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Kevin Durant scored 42 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23) to the 112-111 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Durant scored 21 of his 42 in the fourth quarter, as the Thunder trailed by double digits on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter.
Durant put the Thunder ahead for good with 16.5 seconds when he drove to the rim and threw down the massive dunk over the entire Pistons team to put Oklahoma City ahead 112-111. It helped that Andre Drummond fouled out earlier in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City forced a jump ball with 1.8 seconds remaining and defended Brandon Jennings long 3-point attempt that hit iron and glanced off, letting Oklahoma to the victory.
The Pistons (29-53) led throughout most of the game. After Oklahoma City went up to their largest lead at 17-11, The Pistons ripped off a 10-0 run giving them the lead and they would push it up to as many as 11 in the second and third quarters. Just sloppy defensive plays by the Thunder kept giving the Pistons opportunities to limit what Oklahoma City wanted to do all evening. The Thunder never were able to get into their offensive rhythm until late in the fourth quarter.
It was the ninth straight win over the Pistons for Oklahoma City. The Thunder have not lost to Detroit since 2008 when Allen Iverson hit a buzzer beater in Detroit.
Russell Westbrook contributed 22 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and six steals. Serge Ibaka had 10 points, 15 rebounds and blocked six shots. Reggie Jackson had 15 points off the bench for the Thunder. Thabo Sefolosha scored seven points in the first quarter, but was not able to find the scoring column for the remainder of the game.
Oklahoma City will now play the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN in Game 1 of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
Keys to the Game
Early Execution: F
Oklahoma City looked tired and struggled to get into their offense early and often. Credit the Pistons for playing one of their best offensive games of the season against one of the best teams in the league. However, Oklahoma City gave another no name player a chance at a career high, and he hit it in the first half. The Thunder need to find a way to play lock down defense again. It’s been missing for some time.
While Oklahoma City out rebounded the Pistons, they had so many opportunities to score on second chances but missed tons of shots. They also allowed 21 second chance points for the Pistons. If you do this against the Grizzlies, you’re going to get run out of the building. They cannot do that in the playoffs. They have to leave this in the regular season.
Bench Mob: C
Oklahoma City’s bench was really invisible, sans Reggie Jackson. Caron Butler was held scoreless for the first time since joining the Thunder. That’s not something that can become a regular occurrence in the playoffs. He’s going to need to average 10 or so per game in the playoffs. Derek Fisher might as well have scored zero. He wasn’t very helpful tonight either.