OKC Thunder: Pride still matters in Thunder camp

Kevin Durant was asked Monday if Game 3 was about pride. He said no, but the more he talked, the more you realized that indeed motivated the Thunder.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 26, 2014

For the game, the Thunder had 31 fouls shots, the Spurs 16. Was that discrepancy a result of the Thunder being the much more-aggressive team?

“That’s what I told my team,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.

Russell Westbrook and Durant each went 8-of-8 from the foul line. They had combined for just 17 attempts in the first two games.

“Durant and Westbrook shot too many free throws, and we took care of that the first two games,” Popovich said. “But that got away from us, for instance, in Game 3. That's a big part of what they do. That can't happen.”

LAMB CONTRIBUTES

The Thunder’s Jeremy Lamb played just 61/2 minutes total in three games of the Memphis series. He played just 81 seconds of the Clipper series, not counting the fourth quarter of a Game 1 blowout loss. He played just 4:58 in Game 1 against the Spurs and just 1:47 in Game 2, before garbage time when the games were decided.

But Lamb played the entire second quarter of Game 3, in part because Derek Fisher suffered a cut on his head that required six stitches and in part because Lamb was effective.

In 13:15 of the first half, Lamb had four points and three rebounds. He got lost a couple of times defensively, but Lamb’s offensive assertiveness was a welcome sight.

“He gave us good offensive minutes,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He has the ability to make a jump shot, and we like that and we need that. But defensively it's still something he's going to have to continue to lock in on because he's guarding really good players that are experienced, and their offense, they make you play for 24 seconds. But I thought he gave us good minutes.”

LEONARD STRUGGLING

San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard averaged 12.8 points and shot 52.2 percent from the field in the regular season. Through two playoff series, Leonard averaged 14.0 points and shot 52.5 percent from the field.

But through three games against the Thunder, Leonard has averaged just 10.0 points and has made just 13 of 31 shots. Leonard’s defense on Durant has been solid, but the Spurs could use an offensive lift from Leonard.

“I take what the defense gave me,” Leonard said Monday. “But I got to the paint a few more times yesterday. Shots just didn’t really fall for me.”

Leonard did get off four shots right at the rim, but six of his 11 shots were from longer than 16 feet.

JACKSON BROUGHT ACTION

The Spurs were well aware of the changes Reggie Jackson brought to the starting lineup.

“Gives them another scoring guard, another threat from the perimeter,” said the Spurs’ Danny Green. “I’m not saying (Thabo) Sefolosha is not capable of knocking down shots, but he’s definitely more aggressive, another ballhandler where Russ (Westbrook) doesn’t have to have the whole load on him of bringing it up every time and making plays. Reggie is another playmaker.”


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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