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Thunder 102, Spurs 82

by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 1, 2012

Nuggets from my notebook from Thursday night's Game 3 win over San Antonio.

  • Who saw that coming? Oh, that's right...Never mind.
  • The Thunder led by as many as 27 points and never trailed after taking a 29-27 lead with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter.
  • Thabo Sefolosha clearly was the player of the game. He played the game of his freaking life. He finished with 19 points, six rebounds, six steals, a blocked shot and an assist in 37 minutes. He didn't have a single turnover.
  • Thunder coach Scott Brooks started Sefolosha on Spurs guard Tony Parker and it made a huge difference. Not only did it give Russell Westbrook a rest, but it totally disrupted the Spurs' offense. Sefolosha's length made life miserable for Parker. Thabo got four steals in the first three minutes and set the tone wonderfully with his defensive effort.
  • Parker finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting and had to work incredibly hard for every little bit he got thanks to Sefolosha. What Parker did get was a result of second and third options. Very rarely, if ever, did he get his first preference.
  • The Spurs had 21 turnovers. Parker had five of them.
  • The Thunder converted those 21 turnovers into 20 points. Big aspect of this win. Since the first half of Game 1, the Spurs had taken much better care of the ball. But the Thunder got back to creating chaos and capitalizing off it tonight.
  • OKC had 18 fast break points to the Spurs' seven.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on his teams turnovers: "That doesn’t help. That sort of characterized the beginning of the game and gave them a really good head start in that sense as far as the way they were playing. I think we recovered pretty poorly from that."
  • A couple of more adjustments Brooks made that really helped the Thunder. He left Sefolosha in way longer than he normally does, playing Thabo the entire first quarter and even sticking with him at the start of the second. He stuck with Kendrick Perkins despite a growing segment of observers saying the big man should sit. And he scrapped the B team, leaving Nazr Mohammed and Daequan Cook on the bench and going with his best guys.
  • Sticking with Perk proved to be a wise, wise decision. Perk's defense = amazing. He shut down Tim Duncan, holding the future Hall of Famer to 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting. He defended the pick-and-roll much better, even verbally challenging Tony Parker when put on an island at the top of the key following one switch. And he did the same to Manu Ginobili on a later sequence.
  • Brooks on Perk: "He didn't play well last game. The decision was not not play. The guy has won so many games for us. I just needed him to play better, and he stepped up and played better tonight."
  • The fast start was exactly what the Thunder needed. An 8-0 run established the tempo and style of play. During those first 3 1/2 minutes, the Thunder forced the Spurs into four steals (all Sefolosha) and got out in transition for easy buckets which had to have helped build some confidence.
  • Shortly after Ginobili checked in, Sefolosha switched over to him and started locking him up late in the first quarter. Did I mention that Thabo was The Man tonight?
  • The Thunder made six 3-pointers. Thabo made four of them.
  • Back to Perk. His post defense helped to hold San Antonio to 24 paint points. The Spurs had 50 paint points in Game 1 and 42 in Game 2.
  • Even against Duncan, Perk showed his true value. He used his length and strength to crowd Duncan and contest every one of his shots. Well, maybe not the first two mid-range Js Duncan drilled. But you get the point. When Duncan tried to back down Perk, he
  • I hope every who thinks Perk sucks and should sit realizes that Duncan is 13-for-41 from the field. That's 31.7 percent. Perk has had a lot to do with that. He might not have had the best start to this series, but he has plenty of value. Put Serge Ibaka on Duncan and dude might erupt. Check that, he will erupt. The Spurs have a ton of weapons and the goal is to take what you can away from them. So far, thanks in large part to Perk, despite his flaws, he's taken Duncan's offense out of this series.
  • For all the talk of adjustments that goes on in the playoffs, and the handful that were made tonight, this game really came down to one thing. And it's ironic because it was the thing that Brooks mentions most and, at times, is ridiculed by some for stressing so much: effort. The Thunder played harder. Plain and simple. OKC played harder for longer. Players gave second and third efforts and rarely ever gave up on plays. Shots were contested. The pick-and-roll was shut off faster and better at the point of attack. And rotations were crisp.
  • Brooks: "I thought the biggest adjustment was we played better. We played better basketball. That was the game plan going in is to play much better basketball."
  • Pop: "They played really well. They played like it was a closeout game, both offensively and defensively. They were very active, physical. They moved the ball well on offense, and they did all those things better than we did. They beat us good."
  • Stephen Jackson: "They gave us an old-fashioned butt-whipping."
  • There was an aerial shot of Oklahoma City on TNT during an early second-quarter timeout. As the camera zoomed out from Chesapeake Energy Arena, showing more and more of the city, we saw a sobering image of an empty Thunder Alley. Shame. Just a complete and utter shame.
  • I really wish Thabo took more shots than Kevin Durant tonight. Sefolosha came within one of tying KD, 17-16 being the final tally. There couldn't have been a better testament to how KD doesn't always need to take the most shots for the Thunder. That's a common misconception about this team. In fact, the Thunder generally is at its best when everybody gets involved and Durant doesn't have to shoot a lot.
  • I just wrote 1,000 words before the first mention of Durant. Kind of speaks to my point.
  • Westbrook played his buns off, too. Statistically, he had a mediocre game by his standards with 10 points, seven rebounds and nine assists while missing 10 of 15 shots. But you can only hope he realizes that he had a phenomenal night and doesn't always have to have eye-popping numbers. I think he does know that. But his defense, along with Sefolosha's and Perk's and Ibaka's, set the tone. Westbrook had four steals and two blocked shots and was a nightmare for the Spurs all night.
  • Another delightful thing about Westbrook's performance: two turnovers. His decision-making and pace were both on point tonight. He didn't force things and never got carried away. In three games in this series, Westbrook has just six turnovers.
  • Thanks in large part to Westbrook's ball security and ball movement, the Thunder had 23 assists against just eight turnovers. That ratio will win the Thunder a ton of ball games.
  • San Antonio had 18 assists and 21 turnovers. That ratio is destined to get the Spurs blown out. Look for them to take much better care of the ball in Game 4.
  • The Spurs have led after the first quarter in every game thus far. I see that changing in Game 4.
  • One thing you should know about Thabo. The guy hates talking about himself. Hate is probably too strong. But he never wants to take the credit, no matter how well he plays. It's always been an admirable trait he has. Perhaps because he's from Switzerland, some might credit his foreign upbringing. But I think he's just a humble, down-to-earth dude.
  • Sefolosha on his performance: "I think it was just one of those games. We came to play, the whole team, and it worked out for us. But my teammates did a great job finding me and I was reading them. I think I played pretty well defensively and that got me going offensively as well."
  • There were a ton of missed calls tonight. I'll spare you the details, but best believe they're in my notebook. There were 35 fouls called tonight, 21 by halftime. There probably should have been about 60. Thank God it wasn't.
  • San Antonio’s 82 points were the Spurs’ fewest since a 79-point dud in a Jan. 27 loss at Minnesota. Over their 20-game winning streak, the Spurs averaged 109.4 points. Thursday was just the third time the Spurs had scored less than 100 points over that same span.
  • Up next. Game 4 back at The Peake on Saturday.
-DM-

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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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