After two sordid performances in San Antonio, the Thunder produced a commanding victory in Game 3 against the Spurs, and the grades reflect the Thunder domination:
Aggression: A. The Thunder attacked the basket much more than in the first two games of the series. That aggression changed the game in the third quarter. The Thunder offense wasn’t great in that period – OKC made just four of 17 shots and had only two baskets in the final 9:25 of the quarter. But the Thunder took 22 foul shots in the quarter, making 18. The Spurs shot zero foul shots in the quarter. And the Thunder expanded its lead from 57-53 to 83-76. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant each went 8-of-8 from the line in Game 3. They had combined for just 17 attempts the first two games.
Killer instinct: A. When the Spurs smelled blood in San Antonio, they pounced. The Thunder did the same in Game 3. Leading by seven points to start the fourth quarter, the Thunder scored on its first three possessions of the period – a Reggie Jackson drive, a Durant runner and a Caron Butler 3-pointer – and led by 14. The Spurs never got closer than nine the rest of the way, and the Thunder led by as many as 20.
Rebounding: B. The Spurs had 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second-chance points. San Antonio had 16 second-chance points through three quarters, which is what kept this game as close as it was. But the Thunder countered with 16 offensive rebounds of its own, leading to 15 second-chance points. Six Boomers had multiple offensive rebounds, led by Durant and Westbrook with three each.
National anthem: A. Oklahoma City cellist Sam Kahre, 15, played an instrumental “Star-Spangled Banner,” and it was over the moon great. Singers are fine. Musicians always are better. And great musicians are best.
Perimeter defense: B. The Thunder shut down Tony Parker and Danny Green, who had hurt them extensively in the first two games. Green made just three of 12 shots, and just two of his six 3-pointers. Parker scored just nine points and had as many turnovers (four) as assists. Jackson stayed with Green on the perimeter, and Westbrook accepted the challenge of staying in front of Parker. The only downer was that the Thunder let Manu Ginobili get loose far too often in the second quarter. Ginobili sank three 3-pointers in the final 2:02 of the first half, keeping the Spurs close. He had 20 first-half points but scored only three in the second half.
Ball security: C. The Thunder had 18 turnovers. Seven of the OKC turnovers came in the first quarter and five in the second quarter. That led to 14 San Antonio points in the first half. The good thing was, the turnovers weren’t of the live ball variety – the Spurs had just six steals in the game.
Dealing with foul trouble: A. Kendrick Perkins got three fouls in the first quarter and had to sit the rest of the half. Durant got his second foul 2:20 into the second quarter. But the Thunder dealt with both issues well. Durant continued to play aggressively, though smart, and didn’t get his third foul until the fourth quarter. Kawhi Leonard again was not much of an offensive factor for the Spurs, scoring just 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Meanwhile, Steven Adams again played well in Perk’s stead. Tim Duncan made just four of 10 shots with Perkins on the court but wasn’t much better (three of seven) with Adams on the court. Duncan finished with eight rebounds and 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting.