Spurs 101, Thunder 74
Nuggets from my notebook from Saturday’s loss at San Antonio.
- A horrible start to this game put the Thunder in a deep, deep hole early. The Thunder couldn’t get a stop and had an even tougher time getting shots to fall. OKC stared at a 31-17 deficit after the first quarter and never could recover. Every time the Thunder put up a fight, the Spurs showed exactly how good they are and thwarted the Thunder’s brief rallies.
- It’s hard to pinpoint a turning point in this one considering it was a beating from start to finish. But there was five-point swing in favor of the Spurs with 8:25 left in the third that was absolutely huge. Thabo Sefolosha missed a layup off a nice setup by Russell Westbrook that would have made it 55-48, Spurs. Kevin Durant had come out for the third quarter with a little bounce in his step and looked like he was heating up after making his first two shots of the period. But then Jeff Green fouled Richard Jefferson on a layup and Jefferson maked the freebie to put the Spurs up 58-46. The Spurs then closed the quarter on a 19-7 run to take a 24-point lead into the fourth quarter.
- A whole lot of season-lows in this one for the Thunder offensively.
- 74 points.
- 32.9 percent shooting.
- 10 assists (ties season low)
- Durant’s 16 points (ties season low)
- Westbrook’s eight points.
- This was the worst loss of the season by the Thunder, topping a 21-point home defeat to Utah on Halloween.
- OKC never led in this one. The Spurs led by as many as 27.
- More stats: after one quarter, the Thunder had five turnovers and just four field goals. At halftime, the Thunder had as many turnovers as field goals (12) and made free throws.
- Serge Ibaka was the lone bright spot in this one. His energy and hustle in the second quarter briefly threatened to change the game. His length caused a few problems for Tim Duncan. Ibaka finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots for his second straight double-double and his fifth of the season.
- I’m not ready to ask the question of whether Ibaka should start over Nenad Krstic. But I am wondering whether Thunder coach Scott Brooks should just stick with Ibaka for longer stretches as he did in the first half tonight. Krstic was an absolute non-factor in the first half. And, as I said, Ibaka almost changed the game. Krstic had a better third quarter. But if Ibaka’s got it going, why not leave him in there?
- The Spurs had 60 points in the paint. Sixty! The Thunder had just 26.
- Not sure what’s worse. Seeing the Spurs (or any team for that matter because nearly everyone has done it this year) burn the Thunder from beyond the arc like it did back on Nov. 14, or seeing a team rack up that many paint points. It might sound silly since paint points are obviously what you’d like to cut off most seeing as how they are a much higher-percentage shot. But the Thunder has allowed teams to shoot 38.7 percent on 3s, so it’s no longer aberration. The way the Spurs got much of their paint points tonight, though, was particularly disturbing because they got them in transition. If the Thunder is undersized down low, can’t defend the 3-point line and can’t get back in transition, uh, there’s a big-time problem brewing.
- Here’s something that should make you appreciate the coaching staff. Several times tonight, coaches were screaming in defensive assignments. And most of the time, they were providing players warnings before something was about to happen. One possession stands out. Assistant coach Brian Keefe shouted at the top of his lungs for Sefolosha to watch for the flare. As I watched it unfold, I had no idea what was going on. Then I saw Ginobili pop out to the three-point line as Sefolosha got caught on a back screen. And when Keefe unleashed an expletive just as it was unfolding, Sefolosha’s missed assignment was unmistakable. Ginobili eventually missed a corner 3, and Keefe retook his seat with no harm done. But that was as clear of an example as ever as sometimes, it’s on the players not the coaches.
- Of the league’s stars, Manu Ginobili’s release has to be one of the slowest. He takes his sweet, precious time letting it fly. I guess it works because defenders are afraid of him blowing by them if the close out too fast.
- Hey, Matt Bonner only made one of two 3-pointers tonight.
- I asked Jefferson about the rip move before tonight’s game and, sure enough, three minutes in he gets caught with it. But referee Joey Crawford did something that I’ve rarely, if ever, seen. He called Jefferson for the foul on Durant but said the play was on the floor, not on Durant’s shot. Interesting twist.
- Green struggled mightily tonight. And it started from the first quarter. He had one points on 0-for-3 shooting and contributed just one rebound while committing one foul. On the stat sheet, Green has a zero in the turnover column for the first quarter and just one for the game. But I counted two in the first quarter alone. His defense was not very good either, particularly the foul on Jefferson that led to the game-changing three-point play and a horrid close out on DeJuan Blair in the first half.
- I thought the Thunder did a decent job of controlling the glass through three quarters. Like everything else, it got off to a bit of a slow start. But going into the fourth quarter, both teams were tied with 38 rebounds. The Spurs had just seven offensive boards. Blair was held in relative check with nine total rebounds.
- The Spurs are fun to watch. Gone are the days of slow, drag-it-out, walk-it-up ball. These guys play fast and are looking to run you out of the building. They’ve got speed and shooters and can mix it up and do what they need to do defensively and in the halfcourt when all else fails. I still think they need one more big guy, but they’re tough. Can they won 70?
- And finally, shout out to all the loyal Thunder heads who still followed my updates on Twitter. I thought that with OU playing in the Fiesta Bowl, nobody was paying attention to the Thunder. Boy, was I wrong. You all are good fans. And I’ll never question your fanhood again.
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