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Thunder 107, Spurs 93

by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 17, 2012

Nuggets from my notebook from Monday's win over the Spurs.

  • Serge Ibaka didn't want to talk about his "thing" with Stephen Jackson. Everything he needed to say was said through his play Monday night. Ibaka scored a career-high-tying 25 points with a game-high 17 rebounds to help the Thunder take this victory. He made jumper after jumper, got timely putbacks and made foul shots. After the night he had, Ibaka really had no need to respond to Jackson.
  • Ibaka when asked about if the incident from earlier this month fueled his performance: "I respect your job, but I don't want to talk about (it). It was a great win for us. We need it. It's about (the) win, the team win."
  • Jackson on whether the two exchanged words during the game: "I'm leaving that alone. It's all basketball. Whatever was said on the court is going to stay on the court and I'm going to leave it alone. I wish Serge the best."
  • Jackson then commended Ibaka for his performance. "He hurt us bad," Jackson said. "He had, what, 18 in the first half, 16 in the first half? He was hitting everything. That's the same way we lost last year in the playoffs, by him hitting those same shots. I take my hat off. He played a great game tonight."
  • I was standing outside the Spurs locker room when Jackson came skipping out to warm up before the game. I was then nearby when he exited the court following his warm-ups. When he reached the fans at the tunnel, Jackson began signing autographs for scores of Thunder fans. I couldn't tell which was weirder given the circumstances, him happily signing or Thunder fans eagerly asking.
  • Worth noting that Jackson had missed 14 straight games with a fractured finger before returning to the lineup tonight. Coincidence?
  • Nothing happened between Jackson and Ibaka. And that was to be expected after the league fined Jackson $25,000 for the threatening comments he posted on Twitter. As I wrote in this space before, Big Brother was watching, and a player would have to be off his rocker to do something silly knowing the league has its radar up.
  • This was just Ibaka's third 20/10 game. His last 20/10 performance came Jan. 27 at Golden State. He had another in the playoffs.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Ibaka: "He's gifted. You have a 4-man who can spread the court and shoot it like that, it makes it tougher on everybody and that's why there's so many shooting 4s in the league."
  • Without Manu Ginobili or Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs were far from full strength. That took something away from this matchup, which originally appeared to be a marquee matchup but turned into a average affair. It would have been nice to see the Spurs have two of their best players, and it would have been a much better test for the Thunder.
  • Without Leonard in the lineup, Kevin Durant was defended by Danny Green and Jackson. Jackson generally does a decent job on Durant, but Green you wouldn't expect to stand a chance. Yet KD had just 19 points and only seven shots through three quarters. It was more about Durant deferring to the hot hands (Ibaka mostly) as opposed to the defense dialing in and stopping him.
  • It's nights like these that make you think Durant has no shot at a fourth straight scoring title. Not because he can't claim it, but because he doesn't care to. Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are both scoring in bunches this season. Durant, meanwhile, continues to show he's satisfied with winning in bunches.
  • The Thunder did a terrific job of taking care of the ball tonight. Just 12 turnovers, which led to only 10 Spurs points. OKC had just eight through three quarters.
  • Scott Brooks moved Russell Westbrook over to Gary Neal to start the second half and put Thabo Sefolosha on the Spurs' point guard. Parker's numbers in the first half: 9 points, 2-for-6 shooting, 6 assists, 1 turnover. Parker's numbers in the second half: 5 points, 2-for-5 shooting, 1 assist, 0 turnovers.
  • In fairness, Parker played only 8 minutes, 21 seconds in the second half, about half as much as he did in the first half. And like the rest of the Spurs starters, Parker didn't play at all in the fourth, as Popovich rested his main guys after going into the final period facing an 18-point deficit.
  • Sefolosha's defensive effort, however, made up for a pretty tough shooting night. After starting 0-for-7, Sefolosha finished 1-for-8 and just 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
  • Westbrook had 22 points, nine assists and just one turnover. He missed 12 of 18 shots, but he played within himself and not once got caught up in the matchup with Parker as he's done so many times in the past. He put pressure on the Spurs in various ways offensively and did so while playing under control. That's becoming a theme for Westbrook. He improved his career-high assist-to-turnover ratio this season to 2.76. Wonder how high that can get this year. His previous best for a season was 2.43, which came in year two.
  • Popovich got a classic technical foul midway through the third quarter. He was signaling for a timeout after a Nick Collison jumper, but the refs didn't see him. As the Spurs advanced the ball up the court, Popovich began shouting at one of the refs, telling him he had been asking for the timeout since the shot was made. The ref tried to walk away. Pop then went to another ref and aired his grievance there. Finally, he walked over to the third ref, as animated as ever, and pointed at all three refs as if to say "The three of yous couldn't grant my timeout when I wanted it and now you cost me three seconds!" Veteran ref Bennett Salvatore, the second official who got an earful, finally T'd up Pop as he was chewing out the third ref. Of course, that only set off Pop even more, prompting him to shout across the court at Salvatore "I wasn't even talking to you! I was talking to him!"
  • I wonder why Pop doesn't just turn DeJuan Blair loose every time the Spurs play the Thunder.
  • That's now 11 straight wins for the Thunder and a 20-4 start. As I wrote in Monday's paper, though, things get tougher on the Thunder from here as 15 of the next 22 will come on the road. A three-game trip is on deck, starting at Atlanta and ending with the highly anticipated Christmas game at Miami. If the Thunder can successfully tackle these next three, OKC will be on a 14-game winning streak and 23-4 the next time it plays inside The Peake. It's unbelievable what this team is doing right now. I think it's safe to say we're all getting pretty spoiled.
  • Up next. At Atlanta on Wednesday.
-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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