Let’s be fair to the Spurs. They carved up the Thunder in other ways than taking advantage of Ibaka’s void. San Antonio had three turnovers at halftime. The Thunder didn’t commit a defensive foul the first 10 minutes of the game. Clearly, the Thunder’s defense was lax in ways that have nothing to do with Ibaka.
The Thunder didn’t contain the Spur dribblers. Didn’t react well to the San Antonio passing. The Thunder seemed to play in quicksand the first half. Until Monday night, though, the Thunder had the Ibaka safety net.
“We’re a no-excuse team,” Scotty Brooks said. “Serge is out. He’s not coming back. We have to play better. No matter who we have out there.”
The Thunder found some defensive legs in the third quarter. Kendrick Perkins bodied up Duncan. The Thunder kept Parker and Co. from a layup drill. The Spurs made just five of 17 shots in the third quarter, Russell Westbrook got aggressive offensively in the open court and, amazingly, the Thunder twice took a one-point lead.
But the levee broke. The Spurs got more easy baskets. They broke open the game in the second half same as they did in the first half.
Last May, we learned what the Thunder offense is like without Westbrook. It wasn’t pretty.
Monday night, we learned what the Thunder defense is like without Ibaka. It was even less so.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.