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Spurs 109, Thunder 105

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm •  Published: February 23, 2011

Nuggets from my notebook from Wednesday’s loss at San Antonio.

  • I agree with Thunder coach Scott Brooks. He said tonight was one of those games where his team moved forward. That’s exactly what happened tonight. Since the Thunder is 16 games over .500, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that this season is still mostly about development. Wins are becoming what matters most. That’s certainly understandable. But winning is no good (unless you win it all, which the Thunder is not. I could be wrong) if you don’t understand how to win, which is precisely what I think the Thunder was doing early in the year. A win tonight would have been great for the Thunder. Another signature victory. But it might be better that the boys lost playing a style they want to become their staple as opposed to winning yet again in a manner that isn’t its desired makeup.
  • With that said, the Thunder has got to get off a better shot in the final 10 seconds. I don’t know what Jeff Green was thinking. But what he did looked like something along the lines of, ‘Oh crap, the clock is about to run out” was running through his mind. Not used to seeing Green lose his composure in those situations.
  • I don’t completely blame Green, the other four Thunder players on the court or the coaching staff. The Spurs are an excellent defensive team. This is what they do. They take away your options and force you into doing something that looks plain dumb.
  • What would concern me more is the Thunder’s two field goals in the final 7 1/2 minutes. Jumper after jumper bounced off the rim. The feeling inside the locker room was that the looks were all good. That’s up for debate. In the final 7 1/2 minutes, the Thunder went 2-for-11 from the field. Ten of those shots were from 15 feet and beyond. Five of those misses were from 3-point range. Compare that with the Spurs. San Antonio was 4-for-13 from the field over that same span. Nine of those attempts came from seven feet or closer. The Spurs missed seven of those bunnies. Those are great looks. The Spurs attempted only three 3s in that stretch, making one.
  • Russell Westbrook needs a filter. From what I could tell, nobody on the court or the bench said anything to him as he continued to jack up shots. That tells me he’s going to have to figure it out on his own. His rope is long, which, again, is understandable since harnessing him could halter his effectiveness. But he clearly hurt the team tonight by looking for his own offense so much. I don’t think Westbrook is doing it selfishly. He simply seems to play hero too much and get into trouble. But I have no doubt he has good intentions, probably feeling like he can bring his team back by himself.
  • The difference between a starter and a reserve was evident tonight. When Eric Maynor failed to swing the ball to Daequan Cook early in the fourth quarter, Brooks ripped Maynor a new one. This was one of those moments Brooks’ mom wouldn’t have been happy with if you know what I mean. But for some reason, after every hurried or ill-advised shot Westbrook took, I noticed Brooks continue to sit on the bench with almost no reaction. It was weird.
  • Now in Brooks’ defense, Maynor should have swung that ball. Cook was wide open in the corner, and Brooks had just inserted him to give the team a spark.
  • Tony Parker in transition is unstoppable.
  • If you ask me, Nick Collison’s foul was a welcomed and long overdue hack. I can’t recall another time when a Thunder player has delivered a hard foul on a guard who is owning that paint. And that’s shocking for a team that allows so much dribble penetration. I think the Thunder needs more of that. Collison stopped short of agreeing. “I’m not going to go that far,” he said. “I just think it was an individual play where he got me in a bad spot where he had the advantage. And I knew I was going to get a foul so I was trying to make sure he didn’t get a bucket.”
  • Looking at the replay of Collison’s foul, I didn’t think it was dirty. It just looked like in trying to wrap up Parker, Collison ended up getting a piece of Parker’s neck near the end of the play. I think that’s probably what Parker and Antonio McDyess took exception to.
  • Here’s what Parker said of the game’s physicality: “Nobody told me it was playoff time. It was super physical.”
  • Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan were slapped with a technical for their roles in the mix up. Durant was standing right in front of me, talking to Brooks when the announcement of the ruling was made. His reaction, which was complete shock, was comical. No more than two minutes later, Durant told a team official to try to get it rescinded. Expect the Thunder to appeal to the league office.
  • I knew Gary Neal could shoot. I had no idea he was this good of a playmaker. Or was the Thunder’s shell defense just that bad?
  • Loved Harden’s chase-down block on Neal.
  • The dribble penetration created a gang of opportunities yet again for the Spurs. And, again, they made the Thunder pay, connecting on 13 of 21 3-pointers. “The first half, it was ridiculous,” Brooks said. “In the first half, they made eight out of 11. Six of them were mistakes on our part. We were overhelping when help wasn’t necessary.”
  • I thought the best defensive stretch for the Thunder came at the start of the third quarter. The Thunder held the Spurs to 1-for-10 shooting. San Antonio’s second bucket didn’t come until Duncan dunked with 5:40 left in the period.
  • The Thunder lost the thee-game series with the Spurs, 0-3.
  • Whenever you get a chance, try to tune in to a Spurs game against someone else and watch how they space the court. It’s incredible. Unless they’re running a pick-and-roll, they basically initiate their offense with each other so far apart that it leaves defenders on an island. And so once a player gets beat off the dribble, a second defender is forced to come help. When that happens, it becomes nearly impossible to recover with so much ground to cover. It’s absolutely beautiful. Unless of course they’re playing your team.
  • Serge Ibaka was a force for much of this one. His defensive rebounding was big and he kept several plays alive on the offensive end. He also altered several shots at the rim.
  • The lineup Brooks went with down the stretch — Westbrook, Harden, Durant, Green and Ibaka — is the one I think should be starting.
  • Something I found odd: until Green’s foul shots with 2:23 remaining, Durant, Westbrook and Harden were the only two Thunder players to get to the foul line.
  • Orlando lost at home to Sacramento tonight. That can’t possibly help the Thunder going into Friday’s game.


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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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