What a performance. The Thunder dominated most of the game and won by blowout for the second straight time. And the grades reflect such a showing.
Rim protection: A. The Thunder blocked eight shots. Gregg Popovich said, somewhat seriously, he should have passed around a picture of Serge Ibaka so that the Spurs would know who to avoid. But Ibaka blocked only three shots. Kendrick Perkins blocked two. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams blocked one each. Even better, seven of the eight blocks were rebounded by the Thunder, leading to 10 OKC points. Six points were off fastbreaks. Good as turnovers. The Thunder outscored the Spurs 44-36 in the paint, 52-44 if you count foul shots. But those points came at a cost for San Antonio – it made just 18 of 40 shots from the lane. The Thunder made 22 of 31.
Defensive intensity: A. With 8:45 left in the game, the Spurs had 12 assists and the Thunder had 12 steals. That’s all you need to know. Westbrook locked in on Tony Parker, who was playing well but was given little room. The Thunder made life miserable on the inside; Tim Duncan made just three of eight shots. The 3-point line was well-guarded – the Spurs made nine of 27 from beyond the arc.
Three-point shooting: A. The Thunder did two things. 1) Didn’t take too many threes (16). 2) Made an excellent percentage, 43.8 (seven of 16). Durant and Westbrook were a combined four of nine. Jeremy Lamb, Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson each hit a trey.
Halftime act: A. The jump-rope team, the Electrick Jumpers, performed a variety of amazing stunts. Jump ropes don’t seem to be in fashion anymore, but maybe they ought to be.
Starting lineup: C. Jackson’s ankle injury limited the new lineup to just 31/2 minutes in the first half. The Thunder trailed 10-4 when Jackson was sidelined. But Jackson returned to start the second half; he didn’t play well, but the unit did. Scotty Brooks kept the starters in the first 8:13 of the third quarter, during which the Thunder outscored the Spurs 18-12.
Small lineup: B. Brooks went small-ball in the first quarter, and it produced a great run. The unit of Durant, Caron Butler, Adams, Westbrook and Lamb went on a 13-6 spree to give the Thunder the lead for good. Brooks went small for short stints the next two quarters, to less success. The small lineup matched the Spurs 4-4 in 2:42 of the second quarter and then was outscored 7-5 in 1:39 of the third quarter.
Killer instinct: D. With 4:25 left in the third quarter, the Thunder led 76-49, and Popovich had surrendered. The Spurs sported a lineup of Cory Joseph, Boris Diaw, Aron Baynes, Marco Belinelli and Matt Bonner. And the Thunder allowed that quintet to score on eight straight possessions and draw within 81-67. Popovich stayed with his scrubs, and the Thunder controlled the fourth quarter, but it came at a cost. Westbrook played 451/2 minutes. Durant played 41:12. Even the recuperating Ibaka played 34:54. Meanwhile, no Spur starter played as much as 26 minutes.