OKC Thunder Game 2 report card: Defense gets a 'D', Resolve an 'A'

Staff writer Berry Tramel hands out grades for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals
BY BERRY TRAMEL Published: May 29, 2012
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Defense: D. With point guard Tony Parker dominating the game, the Spurs scored on 27 of their 43 first-half possessions. Then the Spurs scored on 10 of their first 13 second-half possessions. That means only 19 stops in 56 possessions the first 21/2 quarters for the Thunder. The only salvation was the Thunder defense stiffened in the fourth quarter and allowed for a spirited comeback. Still, the Spurs shot 55.1 percent from the field.


Resolve: A. This game looked over when the Spurs led 80-58 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. The Thunder looked desperate when it resorted to intentionally fouling backup center Tiago Splitter on five consecutive possessions. But somehow, the Thunder made a game of it, cutting the deficit to 99-93 with 51/2 minutes left and staying within striking distance until the final minute. That portends well for Game 3.

Role players: D. At halftime, the Thunder's non-big three had made three of 21 shots. And it's not like they were locking down on defense. By game's end, the Thunder role players had made just seven of 34 shots and had committed seven of OKC's 10 turnovers, with only two assists.

Big Three: A. Hard to believe the Thunder could get 88 points out of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and still lose. But it happened. Durant (31 points) and Harden (30) were superb, combining to make 20 of 30 shots and 18 of 21 foul shots. And Westbrook played a solid floor game, with eight assists, no turnovers and 27 points. His only downside was defense, where Parker schooled him much of the night, though the Thunder's defensive deficiencies were team-wide.

Bench rotations: C. The rotations proved disastrous. The B Team made its return; Nazr Mohammed played after sitting out Game 1. But in the almost-five minutes the Thunder bench played together to start the second quarter, the Spurs expanded a six-point lead to 13. Brooks has to shorten his bench in this series. And on a night when the Thunder's defense was awful, Scotty Brooks made little use of Thabo Sefolosha. Thabo played just 15:10. Why not try Sefolosha on Parker?

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