I first saw Tim Duncan play basketball live in March 1995. That was 19 years ago. He’s still going. But is he going strong?
Duncan had a solid game Wednesday night in the Thunder’s 111-105 victory in San Antonio: 14 points, 13 rebounds, 6-of-10 shooting. But Duncan wasn’t effectively defensively. ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy pointed out that Duncan couldn’t get out on the pick’n roll anymore. And we saw Reggie Jackson make the Spurs pay — 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting, with eight assists.
We knew the Spurs couldn’t guard Russell Westbrook. Now we wonder if the Spurs can guard Jackson.
Often we blame it on perimeter defense, in this case Tony Parker. But any defense needs its big men to put up some pick’n roll protection, and Duncan didn’t do it Wednesday night. The Thunder outscored San Antonio by 10 points with Duncan on the floor.
You can’t read too much into one game, especially when the Thunder was missing Westbrook and the Spurs were missing Tiago Splitter and Danny Green, then lost Kawhi Leonard in the second quarter.
It’s fool’s gold to ever say the Spurs are getting old. They replenish rather well. But it might be time to ask if Tim Duncan is getting old
More thoughts on Thunder-Spurs:
* Kevin Durant fell back to Earth, to some degree. If you can count 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting normal.
Eleven turnovers was ridiculous, but Durant’s 3-point shooting continues to amaze. In a game in which he obviously was out of rhythm in the fourth quarter and/or fatigued — a couple of short jumpers reached only the front rim — Durant nailed two 3-pointers in the final two minutes, giving OKC 103-96 and 108-98 leads.
In the last four games, Durant is 16 of 25 on 3-pointers. In the fourth quarter of those games, he’s 8-of-11.
* Against the Spurs, Reggie Jackson had eight assists and no turnovers. Jeremy Lamb had six assists and no turnovers.
* The beleaguered Thunder starting lineup again played well. OKC led 23-15 before the first substitution, and for the game, the Thunder’s five-man unit of Durant, Jackson, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha outscored the Spurs 39-35.
* Scotty Brooks against Portland waited until the start of the second half to shift Thabo over on to point guard Damian Lilliard. With great results. But Foreman Scotty never really moved Thabo onto Tony Parker, and the Thunder survived, despite 37 points on 14-of-22 from Parker. Parker continually torched Jackson. Maybe Brooks is waiting on the playoffs to play that card.
* I’ve never heard of a stat as crazy as the Spurs’ record against the best teams in the NBA. The Spurs are 1-9 against the Thunder (0-3), TrailBlazers (0-2), Rockets (0-2), Pacers (0-1) and Clippers (1-1). The lone victory came in a game Chris Paul missed. Meanwhile, San Antonio is 31-1 against the rest of the league.
* Derek Fisher played a whale of a game. Three big 3-pointers and diving onto the hardwood to prompt a jump ball that gave OKC the lead late. Fisher doesn’t have many games like that left in him, but he’s still got a few.
* Interesting that the Thunder could post a solid victory with little help from the foul line. OKC shot just 16 foul shots; the Spurs shot 22.
* Thabo missed all three of his foul shots after getting hacked on a 3-point attempt and didn’t look good on any of the three.
* That was some high-caliber offense. The Thunder shot 54.2 percent, the Spurs 53.3.
* All of a sudden, the Thunder is dang good from 3-point range. OKC made 10 of 18 against the Spurs, after making 10 of 15 against Portland, 9 of 21 against the Kings and 9 of 22 against the Warriors. That’s a four-game stretch making 38 of 76. The Thunder still ranks 18th in the NBA, with a percentage of .353. But the deep ball is looking better.