A 112-77 loss. A fourth quarter that was nothing more than a junior varsity game. This was among the worst and most embarrassing defeats in Thunder history. And the grades reflect it.
3-point shooting: F. The Thunder made just two of 20 3-pointers. Both makes came in the first 10 minutes. The Thunder missed its last 17 attempts. Just as bad as the misses were the decisions. The Thunder shot too many quick 3-pointers. During one stretch of the third quarter, the Thunder took four straight 3-point shots, over three possessions. That came during a period in which the Spurs scored on just one of four possessions, but the Thunder didn’t cut into the lead.
Handling foul trouble: C. The Thunder did a decent job juggling early foul trouble. Nick Collison got his second foul 41/2 minutes into the game. Steven Adams picked up two fouls in the first quarter. Kendrick Perkins got his third foul with 9:37 left in the second quarter. Still, the Thunder led as late as 6:20 left in the second quarter. That 36-35 lead could have been more, but the Thunder didn’t take advantage of Kawhi Leonard’s foul trouble. Leonard played just 9:17 in the first half. In the nine minutes Kevin Durant was on the court in the first half with Leonard on the bench, Durant got just four shots. He made two and added three foul shots. Seven points isn’t enough.
Foul shooting: F. The Thunder made just four of nine foul shots in the first half. Durant missed two on a trip to the line with 1:40 left in the first quarter and OKC up 22-21. Adams missed two with 5:33 left in the second quarter, when the Spurs were early in what became a 10-0 run. Compounding the problem, the Thunder got only one foul shot in the second half.
Starting lineup: D. The new starting lineup again failed. Scotty Brooks had to substitute early, 4:36 into the game and the Spurs up 9-7, because of Collison’s foul trouble. But Brooks bailed on the lineup because of performance in the third quarter. The first 3:07 of the second half, the Spurs outscored OKC 9-4. That’s an 18-11 deficit for the Thunder starters in less than eight minutes of playing time.
Halftime act: D. The local mariachi band in Game 1 was great. But do the Spurs have something against the national acts that tour NBA arenas, even in the playoffs? An in-house band, Silver and Black Attack, performed at halftime. An electric guitarist and a drummer, both wearing masks that were straight out of professional wrestling, circa 1969. Makes you long for Red Panda.
Small ball: C. Through the only three quarters that mattered, the Thunder played a small lineup for 19:01 and was outscored 41-37. On this night, that would have been cause to throw a Thunder parade. In the first half, the Thunder’s small lineup, with Adams the only big man, outscored the Spurs 23-19 in 10 minutes of action. But in the third quarter, the small lineup threw gasoline on the fire. Brooks went to the lineup with the Thunder down 67-48 barely three minutes into the second half. The Spurs outscored OKC 24-14 the rest of the third quarter. San Antonio outscored the Thunder 9-2 with Perkins in the small lineup, then outscored the Thunder 15-12 with Adams the lone big.
Basket protection: C. The Spurs still got too many points in the paint – 40 through three quarters; 54 if you count points off foul shots – but the Thunder did a better job of contesting. The Spurs made 20 of 31 shots in the paint through three quarters. In shots from right under the basket, the Spurs made 14 of 22 (the Thunder made 13 of 26). That’s still not good, but it’s better than in Game 1. Tim Duncan made just five of 12 shots.
Bench: B. The Spurs supposedly have the better depth, but through two games, the Thunder reserves are more than holding their own. OKC’s bench outscored the Spurs’ 43-42, and if you want to throw out Jeremy Lamb’s 13-point fourth quarter and just count the first three quarters, the Thunder reserves still outscored the Spurs’ 28-24. Caron Butler, Reggie Jackson and Adams combined to score 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting. This game was on the starters.