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News » Sefolosha puts on clamps


Sefolosha puts on clamps


Sefolosha puts on clamps
When Damien Wilkins hopped on the back of an unsuspecting Thabo Sefolosha, merrily congratulating his Thunder teammate for his game-clinching defensive stance, the emotional leap served as a symbol of how Sefolosha has carried Oklahoma City to a remarkable turnaround.

Sefolosha secured a 78-76 stunner against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, giving a sold out crowd of 19,136 inside the Ford Center a different ending to a scene that has played out all too many times this season.

With the Spurs trailing by two with 18 seconds remaining, Spurs guard Roger Mason inbounded the ball to a hot-shooting Tony Parker. Parker sat on 28 points and had the final shot to send the game into overtime or win it and join New Orleans' Chris Paul, Denver's Carmelo Anthony (twice) and Minnesota's Mike Miller on the list of players who've stolen wins inside the Ford Center with last-second daggers.

But Sefolosha forced Parker into a contested 19-footer that bounced off the front of the rim with 5.9 seconds remaining, then he partially blocked Parker's desperation 3-pointer from the left corner after Michael Finley rebounded the miss and fired it back out to his point guard.

The final possession exemplified the resilience the Thunder showed as a team, overcoming a 17-point deficit and off-shooting nights from forward Jeff Green and rookie Russell Westbrook.

"Thabo played great," said Green, who scored just 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting. "His defense on Tony Parker was amazing. I think his length bothered Tony a little bit, and he contested every shot he (took)."

Sefolosha's lock-down defense started much earlier than the final possession. Midway through the third quarter, Thunder coach Scott Brooks switched Sefolosha onto Parker after the Spurs guard hit three straight shots over Westbrook.

The switch slowed down Parker, as Sefolosha used his longer 6-foot-7 inch frame to pester the point guard into more tightly contested attempts.

"He can do it all," said Sefolosha, who had 12 points, three steals and two blocked shots. "Especially tonight, he was shooting jumpers and hitting jumpers...But I tried to do a good job of slowing him down and making him pass the ball and have the other guys try to beat us."

Since Sefolosha joined the Thunder in a Feb. 19 trade with Chicago, he's helped the Thunder become much tougher to defeat, improving Oklahoma City's defense and giving it another versatile option offensively.

The Thunder (19-48) is 6-6 since Sefolosha arrived and 6-5 in games he's played. Of the 11 games he's played, Oklahoma City has allowed 100 points or more only five times. The Thunder allowed 100 points or more in eight of nine games before Sefolosha took the court.

Sefolosha has averaged 2.3 steals and 1.0 blocked shots over that same span.

Thunder 78, Spurs 76

SAN ANTONIO FG FT Reb Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTSFinley 38:40 3-10 0-0 2-4 2 2 7 Bonner 31:08 4-10 0-0 1-8 0 2 10 Duncan 34:37 6-13 2-5 0-12 1 0 14 RMason 35:17 2-5 0-0 0-4 4 2 4 Parker 36:02 12-22 4-6 1-4 7 0 28 Udoka 18:50 1-6 0-0 1-4 0 2 2 Thomas 11:07 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 2 2 Gooden 14:53 3-5 0-0 2-5 0 1 6 Hill 15:27 1-6 1-1 0-3 1 2 3 Bowen 3:59 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0Totals 240:00 33-79 7-12 7-46 15 14 76

Percentages: FG .418, FT .583. 3-Point Goals: 3-19, .158 (Bonner 2-5, Finley 1-4, R.Mason 0-1, Parker 0-2, Udoka 0-3, Hill 0-4). Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 16 (21 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Duncan 2, Hill). Turnovers: 15 (Parker 5, Duncan 4, R.Mason 4, Hill 2). Steals: 6 (Bonner, Finley, Hill, Parker, Thomas, Udoka). Technical Fouls: Duncan, 2:42 second.

OKLAHOMA CITY FG FT Reb Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS Durant 41:39 10-24 3-3 0-3 2 0 25 Green 38:22 4-15 2-2 0-6 1 1 10 Krstic 25:22 2-7 1-2 3-7 1 1 5 Seflsha 34:02 4-6 4-4 1-1 2 0 12 Westbrk 32:35 4-17 0-0 2-8 2 2 8 Collison 26:37 3-4 2-2 2-10 0 5 8 Weaver 18:50 1-1 2-2 2-3 2 0 4 Rose 7:08 0-2 1-4 0-4 0 0 1 Atkins 15:25 1-5 2-2 0-1 3 2 5Totals 240:00 29-81 17-21 10-43 13 11 78

Percentages: FG .358, FT .810. 3-Point Goals: 3-7, .429 (Durant 2-2, Atkins 1-2, Green 0-3). Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 12 (14 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Sefolosha 2, Collison, Weaver). Turnovers: 11 (Collison 2, Durant 2, Weaver 2, Atkins, Green, Rose, Sefolosha, Westbrook). Steals: 10 (Sefolosha 3, Durant 2, Westbrook 2, Collison, Green, Weaver). Technical Fouls: None.

San Antonio 29 13 21 13 - 76Oklahoma City 14 24 23 17 - 78

A-19,136 (19,134). T-2:10.

Officials-Ken Mauer, Derrick Collins, David Guthrie.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 20, 2009

 

 
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