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Thunder-Spurs Report Card: Grading OKC's 122-105 loss in Game 1

REPORT CARD — The Thunder’s defense wasn’t the only thing that merit low grades in this Western Conference Finals opener.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 19, 2014

Super small lineup: B. Twice, Brooks went with a lineup we’ve never seen – no bigs on the court. Durant was the de facto center, playing with four perimeter players. In the first half, that lineup – Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler – played a span of 2:14 and was outscored 6-5. Brooks went back to that lineup in the second half, when things started going south, and over a span of 4:54, the super-small lineup matched the Spurs 11-11. So over 7:08, that lineup was outscored 17-16. In the context of this game, that wasn’t half bad, and it gave Gregg Popovich something to chew on during the off day.

Ball security: D. The Thunder committed 16 turnovers, which is bad enough. Worse yet, they came in bunches, fueling San Antonio momentum. After the Thunder clawed back into the game and took a 78-77 lead, it went seven straight possessions without scoring. Three of those were consecutive turnovers – charges by Jackson and Durant, sandwiched around a Westbrook fumble – and the Spurs went in front 85-78. When the Thunder still had a pulse, trailing 103-93 with 51/2 minutes left, Derek Fisher threw away a no-look pass. Then Westbrook got caught in the air, tossed a pass back out to the key that Leonard swiped and turned into a layup. The Spurs led 106-93 with five minutes left and the game was over.

Bench: B. The Thunder bench was a man down, with Collison moving into the starting lineup, and depth is a San Antonio strength. Yet the Thunder reserves outscored the Spurs’ 47-43. Fisher was superb, with 16 points, including 11 in the first half to help OKC stay within striking distance. Reggie Jackson (13 points) had his usual good game against the Spurs. But the Thunder let Manu Ginobili get hot. After going scoreless in the first half, Ginobili scored 18 points, including 15 after the Thunder’s last lead, 78-77. Some of Ginobili’s points came in garbage time, but Ginobili made three baskets in the final four minutes of the third quarter, when the Spurs retook command.

by Berry Tramel
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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