Thunder Rumblings

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Nuggets from my notebook from Wednesday's win against the Spurs

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm •  Published: November 27, 2013
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Hope ESPN and its audience enjoyed Miami at Cleveland…

  • This was high, high quality basketball.
  • It wasn’t always pretty. In fact, rarely was it pleasing to the eye. But for 48 minutes, we were treated to two teams playing basketball the right way, even if it came in alternate stretches at times. They played hard, smart and together. They played with focus, trust and attention to detail. That’s what you get with Thunder-Spurs, an effort we can all be thankful for.
  • Serge Ibaka started the game with a block on Tiago Splitter and followed that by either blocking or altering two or three more shots in the first two to three minutes.
  • Kendrick Perkins started on Tim Duncan, while Ibaka took Splitter. It was a predictable move given the skill set of Ibaka and Perk. But I was surprised to see how easily Duncan drove by Perk on two early possessions, getting to the cup and collapsing the Thunder’s defense.
  • Perk’s early struggles are perhaps what resulted in Steven Adams getting an early look. Scott Brooks went with the rookie with 5:49 left in the first quarter, an earlier than expected sub. He was the first off the bench. Good experience for the young fella.
  • The Thunder wanted to limit the Spurs’ paint points. San Antonio promptly scored its first 10 and 14 of its first 16 inside the paint.
  • On his first five field goal attempts, Kevin Durant might have been fouled on each one. And no whistles were blown. It sort of became the story of his night. He came in averaging 12.5 attempts, making just over 10. He didn’t attempt his first foul shot until 2:56 remained tonight. He finished with a season-low three. His previous season low was five, which came in that (you fill in the blank) game in Minnesota.
  • Spurs missed 10 of 11 3-pointers in the opening period. It wasn’t all great defense. Some of them were just missed shots.
  • Both teams shot under 39 percent in the first quarter. Like I said, it wasn’t a beauty.
  • The all-second-unit B team started the second quarter trailing by two. That group was a +4 when Derek Fisher went to the bench first. Not a bad start, and something that again foreshadowed how this game would play out.
  • OKC’s second string consisted of Fish, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Nick Collison and Adams. They played against Patty Mills (whose energy and effort I love), Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili, Jeff Ayres (who will always be Pendergraph to me) and Boris Diaw.
  • Fish had to march to the bench after picking up four fouls in 1 minute, 13 seconds. Seriously. He got them by attaching himself to Ginobili and trying to bulldoze through screens. All four came away the ball. It was one of the strangest sequences we’ve ever seen in OKC.
  • I just knew Brooks after the game was going to label those four fouls the toughest, most valuable four fouls he’s ever seen. Surprisingly, it didn’t happen.
  • Lamb showed absolutely no hesitation on his first shot, a 3-pointer from the right wing that splashed through the net following a feed from Jackson. It was the latest sign of his growing confidence. The rest of the game, Lamb was just as decisive. And he busted his tail on defense.
  • Lamb on his confidence: “I’m just trying to feel my way through, learn more and more each day. I think my confidence is growing, but at the same time I’ve got a lot to work on, a lot to learn. So I’m just soaking everything up.”
  • Loved, loved, loved Jackson’s aggressiveness. Not just in the fourth quarter, when he scored 14 of his carer-high-tying 23 points. But from the start, Jackson captained the second unit in the second period and scored nine points on 4-for-4 shooting. His confidence just grew from there. He knew, from that quarter, that he could have his way. And he did.
  • An example of Jackson’s command tonight came early in the fourth quarter. He had Diaw isolated at the top of the arc. Instead of using an Ibaka screen, Jackson instructed Ibaka and Collison to space out. He wanted to take Diaw one on one…And he did. He took him off the dribble, got into the lane and converted yet again.
  • Brooks on Jackson: “Reggie was good in pick and rolls. He’s one of the best finishers around the basket. We put him in situations where he can get to the basket, and he does a good job of finding gaps, angles, and he gets there and he finishes around the rim.”
  • Durant on Jackson: “Nobody can stay in front of him.”
  • Jackson on Jackson: “I just attacked the gaps. We just kept trying to attack and get in the lane and make the passes for the next man.”
  • Jackson and Lamb were more fun to watch than Westbrook and Durant tonight. No lie. They were. Jackson and Lamb combined for 35 points on 15 of 21 shooting, turning it over only twice. Westbrook and Durant combined for 30 points on 12 of 39 shooting, turning it over eight times.
  • Durant and Westbrook were trying to do too much in the first half. They were freezing out their teammates and forcing low-percentage shots. It totally disrupted the Thunder’s offense — although on a lot of nights that is the Thunder’s offense — and made OKC entirely too easy to defend, especially for a disciplined defensive team like the Spurs.
  • In the first half, Durant and Westbrook combined to take 24 of the team’s 41 shots. They made just six of their attempts.
  • In the first half, Tony Parker, Ginobili and Duncan combined to take 23 of the Spurs’ 48 shots. That trio made 11 of their attempts.
  • I wouldn’t have had a problem with Durant and Westbrook’s assertiveness if they were taking good shots. But they weren’t.
  • Amazingly, the Thunder trailed by just three at the half.
  • Not surprisingly, in the second half the Thunder jumped all over San Antonio after the ball started moving much better. Ibaka received seven of the Thunder’s first 10 shot attempts of the third quarter and scored the team’s first 10 points of the period. Before you knew it, a 46-43 halftime deficit had turned into a 59-52 lead.
  • After dishing just 10 assists in the first half, the Thunder had 10 assists in the third quarter. Five different players had at least one assists, with Westbrook leading the way with four.
  • Ibaka finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots, good for his team-leading sixth double-double.
  • Anybody else notice how in sync the Thunder Girls are? They’re really a good dance team. Props to them.
  • The Thunder outscored the Spurs 25-15 in the third quarter, holding San Antonio to 5-for-20 shooting in the period. Meanwhile, that ball movement helped the Thunder shoot 12 of 24 from the field in the frame.
  • Jackson and Lamb were so good tonight that Brooks left them in for much of the fourth quarter. He replaced Lamb with Thabo Sefolosha with 4:47 left to play but rode Jackson the whole way.
  • The Thunder’s got a pretty good bench, folks. Of course, Thunder heads already know this. It’s the rest of the country that’s playing catch up.
  • Up next: Golden State on Friday.

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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