2013 NBA Playoffs: Thunder vs Rockets, OKC player grades for game 6

J.A. Sherman

The Thunder finally closed out the Rockets in Game 6, winning 103-94. How did each individual player perform?

There was talk, much talk, of the Thunder becoming the first team in NBA history to lose a series after a 3-0 lead. Fortunately for us all, those talks have been stilled. Let us look at how the Thunder players performed in one of the biggest gut-check games in their young history.

Our game 6 graders are Ramona and myself.

KEVIN DURANT

27 points on 11-23 shooting, 3-9 from 3-point range, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_aplus_medium
Who said KD doesn’t have the killer instinct? Not the Rockets. Kevin spent a little time telling some brazen Houston fans where they could go and 43 minutes sending the Houston Rockets on vacation. He was in top form, in sync with his teammates and getting it done.
Sherman Grade_aminus_medium
Durant got a little long-range happy, hoisting 9 3-pointers in the game despite finally having some success getting closer to the rim. However, it was his leading the offense in the pivotal 3rd quarter both scoring and setting up Reggie Jackson that proved to be the turning point.

REGGIE JACKSON

17 points on 7-15 shooting, 1-6 from 3-point range, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_aplus_medium Great ball movement. Great defensive pressure on the ball. A near triple-double. He’s going to learn to dump the ball off on some of those fastbreaks to avoid the hard falls. That one wipe-out under the basket was frightening for Thunder fans.
Sherman Grade_aminus_medium A lot was expected from "Better Basketball" this series, and Jackson finally figured out some good chemistry with his team leader. He and Durant did a great job setting each other up when the Thunder finally got their offense going in the 2nd half. Still, too many 3-point attempts from a not-good 3-point shooter.

SERGE IBAKA

10 points on 4-13 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 0 turnovers


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_c_medium
Tough shooting night for Ibaka, but he still climbed into double digits. He had a couple of beautiful blocks that reminded me that he is the league’s leading shot blocker. I had almost forgotten.
Sherman Grade_cplus_medium
This should have been a great game for Ibaka to step up, and he did get some better shot attempts, but came up small when trying to finish at the rim. Twice in the 2nd half he had good looks at the rim at point-blank range only to get rebuffed. He gets some bonus points for at least closing off the rim in this game, helping OKC only allow Houston to score 24 points in the paint.

THABO SEFOLOSHA

3 points on 1-5 shooting, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 0 turnovers


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_c_medium C A quiet game for Thabo. When the bench catches fire the way they did, sometimes all you can do is sit and watch. Shots weren’t falling tonight for Thabo, but still he had active hands with the two steals and a blocked shot.
Sherman Grade_b_medium
Sefolosha came back well after getting beat up by James Harden in game 5. Sometimes you measure a defensive player not by his own stats, but by the guy he defended. Harden's line: 26 points on 22 shots, 4 turnovers.

KENDRICK PERKINS

0 points in 4 minutes, 2 turnovers


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_cplus_medium Unable to contribute much in this series, Perk did the one thing that he does better than anyone on the Thunder team. He got chest-to-chest with Garcia, after demonstrating what a solid pick looks like, walked him back a few steps, and let him know that it might be easier running through a wall.
Sherman Grade_f_medium
Brooks learned his lesson by game 6 and only left Perkins on the court for 4 minutes, so how in the world did Perk still manage 2 turnovers in that stint and finish with a +/- of -9?

KEVEN MARTIN

25 points on 7-13 shooting, 3-5 from 3-point range, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_aplus_medium Once Kevin Martin remembered what it was like shooting in the Toyota Center in Houston, everything fell into place, including the basketball in the net. Kmart was all business as he went about quieting his critics for at least a couple of days.
Sherman Grade_aplus_medium If ever there was pressure on an individual guy to perform, it was on Kevin Martin in Game 6 IN Houston. Game 5 proved that Durant needed passing outlets so that the Rockets couldn't gang up on him. In Game 6, Martin finally performed at a level worthy of being part of the Harden trade. It doesn't wipe out the stinkers from earlier, but at least for one night Martin found vindication.

DEREK FISHER

11 points on 4-6 shooting, rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 0 turnovers


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_aplus_medium Who knew that Fisher would be the Thunder’s best defensive player against James Harden? And then, he continues to shoot the ball over 50% from the field. DFish seems up for the challenge of going after that sixth ring, Russell or no Russell.
Sherman Grade_a_medium
Fisher is now the Thunder's most reliable 3-point shooter, and if I woke up tomorrow with my face sewn to the carpet, I could not be more surprised. He was 3-5 tonight, including 2 huge ones in the 2nd half.

NICK COLLISON

10 points on 4-8 shooting, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 0 turnovers in 22 minutes of play


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_aplus_medium After just about every sports analyst in the country questioned Coach Brooks on why Collison wasn’t getting more minutes, Nick had his chance to do his own talking. After going from 6 ½ minutes of play to nearly 22, he was one rebound away from a double-double. This is the type of game Nick is capable of every night.
Sherman Grade_a_medium OHAI Nick, I didn't see you come in. Funny how when you give the Thunder's best mix low post game smarts and offensive talent sufficient minutes, good things happen.

DEANDRE LIGGINS

0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_b_medium
DeAndre wasn’t in there long, but he was in there long enough to helped out defensively when the Thunder bench was on fire in the second quarter. In the second half, he and Fisher worked great together on the perimeter, creating some shot-clock problems for the Rockets.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium
While Liggins is still incredibly limited offensively, he continues to give valuable minutes as a spot defender while on the court. While I'd still like to see Ronnie Brewer in this role, I can't fault Scott Brooks for seeing the need for a bench defender.

SCOTT BROOKS


Grade Comments
Ramona Grade_aplus_medium Coach Brooks responded to his critics by giving in to them. Nick in; Perk out. He also gets credit for a fresh defensive rotation on Houston’s perimeter shooters. I gave him the + for Fisher on Harden. Not a conventional move. When I first saw that match-up, I thought someone had been sniffing the glue sticks. But really, who knew?
Sherman Grade_bplus_medium
Brooks' grade is not so much for anything he did in-game, but how he kept the Thunder in a positive mindset after dropping 2 games in a row, and then getting their defense going mid-way through the 3rd quarter. For a while it looked iffy, as the Rockets once again surged in the 3rd, flipping a 4 point halftime deficit to a 10 point lead. But coaching matters - after OKC went down by 10 at 72-62, they closed out the game on a 40-22 run, fueled mostly by their small ball D.
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