Thunder 102, Spurs 82
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.
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