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OKC Thunder: Inspired defense leads Thunder to another win over Spurs

Oklahoma City finishes with 14 steals and 30 fastbreak points.
by Anthony Slater Published: April 3, 2014

A panicked Danny Green was trapped under a sea of Thunder limbs.

Stuck in the deep corner, with the shot clock skipping down, Green was forced to fling a desperation cross-court pass toward Marco Belinelli.

And for a second, it looked like it would reach its destination.

But then, at the last moment, the long arm of Reggie Jackson swooped in and poked it away, before corralling the ball and dunking it on the other end.

One of the Thunder’s 14 steals. Two of its 30 fastbreak points. And just the latest example of the repetitive issues OKC’s rare length and athleticism – when cranked up to warp speed – causes San Antonio’s typically deadly offense.

Thunder 106, Spurs 94 on Thursday night at The Peake, another streak-breaking win that was due in large part to an impressive defensive effort for the final 27 minutes.

“Our defense was outstanding,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

Early on, the Spurs looked as unbeatable as they’ve proven to be over the previous 19 games. They jumped out to an early double-digit lead and befuddled the Thunder with ball fakes, slick passes and open jumpers.

But late in the first half, the Thunder turned up the activity. And the Spurs’ offense started to unravel.

Over the next 15 minutes – from late in the second quarter to the end of the third – San Antonio made only nine of its 33 shots.

In the game-deciding third quarter, which OKC won 32-20, the Spurs went 7-of-23, while the Thunder went 13-of-19. And a variety of those buckets came off live-ball Spurs turnovers leading to easy transition points on the other end.

“If we play slowly or play in mud, they’re too long and too athletic, too talented,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “…For us, we didn’t react well to the physicality. I thought they did a great job getting physical in the second half. That created a gazillion turnovers. That was the game. Thirty points off turnovers, you’re going to lose.”

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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