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Thunder 100, Spurs 88

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm •  Published: April 5, 2013

Nuggets from my notebook from Thursday’s win over the Spurs.

  • It was better to get this win than to not. But you can’t ignore the fact that San Antonio was without Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson and, after a while, Tony Parker.
  • The result was necessary, but the process didn’t really shed any more light on what we can expect in a potential Western Conference Finals rematch. Inching closer to home-court advantage helps. But we still don’t know if the Thunder is equipped to beat the Spurs in a seven-game series this postseason.
  • Of course, the answer rests in whether the Spurs will be healthy. And nobody at this point can say with certainty that they will be.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Parker couldn’t go because of a leg injury. “I wish he would have told me that before the game,” Popovich said. “He started out, he looked like he had no energy to start the game. And then as he went it looked like he was limping. And then to start the second half (we) saw him come across halfcourt actually limping one time. So that’s when we pulled him. I said, ‘Tony, you’ve got to stop.’ So we’ll figure out what it is. But he just couldn’t go.”
  • Pop said he thinks Parker might be dealing with tendinitis. Said it “might be something in his shins.”
  • Now there seems to be a very real possibility that the Spurs hold Parker out of their remaining games to let him heal for the postseason. It’s something to watch as the Thunder now tries to fend off San Antonio for that top spot. “I got to see what’s going on,” Popovich said. “We thought he had just recovered from his ankle. So this is something new tonight with his leg. I just don’t know what it is right now.”
  • Welcome to the Thunder, Derek Fisher. Or should I say welcome back. Fisher was fantastic tonight. He made six of eight shots, five of seven from downtown. He finished with 17 points in 15 minutes off the bench. I wanted to jokingly say to Scott Brooks after the game that Fish’s “intangibles” look a lot better when he’s making shots.
  • It figures Fish would erupt against the Spurs, one of his oldest rivals and a team he’s helped leave heartbroken so many times in the past. You just know all of San Antonio was screaming at the TV as each of his shots dropped.
  • Fisher took his performance in stride, which is highly respectable. He, like, for real, for real, doesn’t get too high or too low based on his performance. “You can look at a stat sheet after a game and single out certain things,” Fisher said. “But at the end of the night it’s about our team winning the game. And so when that happens, I’m not as concerned about what I did in particular as long as I helped us win.”
  • Fisher had scored nine points on 2-for-23 shooting in his previous eight games. He had a team-high 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting by halftime tonight.
  • This felt like a playoff game. The crowd was into it. The two teams had their intensity on 10. Every possession was valued. No one took any plays off. Made you long for May.
  • Brooks: “The energy was great. I think our fans thought it was a playoff game already. They were so involved in the game from the start.”
  • Especially the courtside guy with unicorn head.
  • OKC had six assists on its first eight baskets and five of them were from Russell Westbrook. By the end of the first quarter, the Thunder had nine assists on 12 makes and seven different players had scored.
  • In that opening period, the Thunder had zero assists and allowed zero offensive rebounds.
  • Westbrook was amazing all night. He had six points with five assists and zero turnovers in the first period, helping the Thunder take a 29-18 lead after the opening quarter. He finished with a game-high 27 points with seven rebounds and seven assists. He added three steals and had just three turnovers in 35 minutes.
  • Serge Ibaka was sort of an unsung hero. His work on the glass (11 rebounds) and blocking shots (three blocks) helped the Thunder control the middle, but his confidence on the offensive end gave OKC a much-needed weapon in addition to Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Two of his shots in particular were terrible — a corner 3 and a mid-range jumper — but they both went in and sort of characterized his contributions.
  • One more thing about Fish. We like to joke about his intangibles. But go back and watch what he did with 9:10 remaining in the second quarter. He fought through a tough Tiago Splitter screen and stayed glued to Gary Neal’s backside. As Neal tried to drive to the cup, Fisher got his arms around and got his hands on the ball, forcing a jump ball. It was a classic example of one of those plays the box score doesn’t show but one that prevented what could have easily been an uncontested jumper by Neal.
  • Word of advice to the Thunder if OKC does happen to meet San Antonio again in the postseason: don’t breath on Tim Duncan or it’ll be a foul.
  • Just when you think the sun is finally about to set on the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard shows you San Antonio still has a bright, bright future. That young man can BALL!! He had 24, 14 and six tonight. He probably outplayed KD. To do that on the road, in this environment, as a second-year player…man.
  • San Antonio tried a zone on a few occasions and it was sort of a mixed result in terms of how the Thunder handled it. Definitely better than when the Clippers threw it at OKC in the last meeting between those two teams, though. Brooks sounded confident after the game that his guys are ready for that now. “We’ve seen it enough now,” Brooks said. “All it is is just moving the ball and using our abilities to create open shots and finding great shots. And I thought we did that tonight. It’s part of our growth as a team. We see that we don’t have to get on our heels and not run what we were going to run. We can run any play against it. All it takes is good spacing and good ball movement.”
  • Bunch of tough games coming up for the Thunder, none tougher than tomorrow night’s at Indy. Lose there and that will sort of take the air out of this one. Tough league this can be.
  • Up next. At Indiana on Friday. (You’ll miss a good one, ESPN)

-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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