Now that’s more like it. I mean, that’s more like what we’ve gotten used to this season.
A game that was very competitive for four quarters with some leads here and there but eventually winding up as a loss. And after the last two, I’ll take it. Especially against a team the caliber of the Spurs.
This was the type of game that was tight throughout, but a poor fourth quarter stretch did Oklahoma City in. And I hate to second guess, but the damage was done with the odd lineup of Kyle Weaver, Shaun Livingston, Jeff Green, D.J. White and Nick Collison. In other words, no offense. The Thunder scored two points over that three minute stretch while San Antonio scored 10. Kind of sort of the difference in the game right there. It’s really no biggie because more than anything you’re trying different combinations and different lineups to see what works and what doesn’t.
You look at the box score and it’s actually kind of difficult to figure out what went wrong. The Spurs shot 47 percent and OKC 45. Both teams made 15 free throws. Both teams made six threes. The Spurs outrebounded OKC by one and only had two more offensive rebounds. The turnover margin was only two in the Spurs favor as the Thunder only turned it 11 times but yet it was a 10 point loss. While they seem small, all those little things added up to seven more Spur shot attempts which gave them five more made baskets. So let’s see, 10 points, two points a basket… five more baskets… two times five equals… 10. There it is. It’s amazing how those tiny things add up to the difference in a game. It really shows how small the margin is between winning and losing at this level.
Tim Duncan was well, very Tim Duncan tonight. A solid 25 points and 15 rebounds on 11-20 shooting. This season Duncan has been sitting one game of back-to-backs and even with a game against Portland tomorrow night, he played against OKC. I may be reading into something here, but that tells me the Spurs have major respect for the Thunder. The Blazer game is in San Antonio and with the Spurs having lost two straight to OKC, they weren’t taking any chances here.
This is a game where you look at Russell Westbrook’s line (10 points, six assists, five rebounds four turnovers) and you feel like he played a mediocre game. But I thought he played an excellent game. He never really forced anything and looked to be thinking pass first all night. It seemed like he was dead set on distributing and not creating his own shot. And that’s a great step. I don’t want him to do that all the time because he can be a dynamic scorer, but it may be good for him to focus on it for these last few and then hopefully be able to put it all together next year. Through three quarters he had only two points on three shots. It was clear that he wasn’t focusing on his own offense, but others. He didn’t take hardly any jumpers (which I don’t like because he needs to knock down open shots, but I think there was a reason behind it). Like I said, I think this is part of his maturation – he’s not completely ready to put it all together. But once he does… oh yeah.
Kyle Weaver almost exclusively point guard tonight. He did a decent job of running the offense, but it was obvious that when his first or second option wasn’t there, he wasn’t sure of himself. He sometimes seemed a bit lost and didn’t seem to have the ability to create for teammates. What was a bit odd was that he was running backup point with Livingston on the floor. I’m sure Scott Brooks is just trying to get Weaver minutes at the point and he didn’t want to sacrifice Livingston’s minutes, but it was still a little weird. As a result, Livingston only had four points and didn’t register an assist. They’re just kind of playing with things now, trying different pieces at different places, but I’d still like to get Livingston plenty of minutes at the point.
Jeff Green had a nice game (16 points) but didn’t score in the fourth quarter and only had two rebounds. I don’t know why, but Green just seems to disappear sometimes. It’s one thing to not be getting the ball or clean looks, but you can always hit the glass. And a 6-9 guy that plays 42 minutes should pull down more than two rebounds. I look at Duncan’s 25 and 15 and it makes me think, when’s the last time an OKC guy had a game even close to that? The Thunder desperately needs somebody on the inside that can play that type of role and own the paint. BlakeGriffinBlakeGriffinBlakeGriffinBlakeGriffin.
- Thabo Sefolosha was very good tonight. He scored 13 points on 5-8 shooting (3-3 from three) and had nine boards. He was also the only Thunder starter in the positives.
- As a team, OKC went 6-9 from three. Which is good. But after the first quarter OKC was 5-6. The Spurs started closing better but it seemed like the Thunder was a bit hesitant to continue chucking.
- The Spurs scored 99 points tonight in beating OKC, meaning that breaks a 14-game winning streak for the Thunder when they hold their opponent to under 100 points. Yes, I was begging Roger Mason Jr. to heave a shot with 10 seconds left to keep the streak alive. But alas, he did not.
- Kevin Durant flirted with a triple-double tonight. He had 24 points, seven boards and six assists. But for some reason, he just didn’t ever have that “I’m gonna take this thing over” look. He’s got a bit of a stinger on his hip and I think it may be bothering him more than he leads on.
- Again, Westbrook had four turnovers tonight which is the first time in five games he’s had that many. While his scoring is a bit down lately, his turnovers have also been way down. I know that three turnovers tonight really shouldn’t have been on Russ either. One was a perfect lob to Durant that went off his fingertips, another should have been a foul and another was a low bounce pass but really should have been dug out by D.J. White.
- Speaking of D.J. White, he looks kind of small. He’s lost a bunch of weight since last year and it looks like he got pushed around some tonight. I really like his little mid-range game and he even showed a couple nice post moves, but on the glass he seems to get bumped off fairly easily.
- It is amazing how Tony Parker slithers his way to the rim. It is really a thing of beauty. He crosses, drives hard, spins and beats two 6-10 guys for a sweet layup. I’ve said it before, but Russell really should take notes. Parker doesn’t go at the rim at full tilt. He goes quickly, but he doesn’t hurry. He’s under control and has a good idea of what he wants to do before he gets there.
- After winning four straight at home, OKC has now lost six in a row at the Ford Center. Here’s to closing out the home season Friday with a win over Charlotte.
This game finished about the way I expected it to. I just couldn’t imagine the Thunder beating the mighty Spurs a third straight time, but they had their chances. More than anything, it was nice to see that team I enjoyed watching so much the past three months scrap and claw and compete again. It wasn’t like it was bad OKC offense again. Sure the Thunder scored just 89 points, but they did shoot 45 percent. It was just an extremely slow paced game and nobody plays that game better than San Antonio. But hey, you tell me at the beginning of the year that OKC is going to split the season series with the Spurs and I’d have told you I would be happy with that.
No time to rest as the Thunder hits the road to take on the Nuggets tomorrow night.