This was a big time confidence builder game for the Thunder tonight on the road.
Go ahead and take a look at the box. It’s kind of weird how close this thing was. Only one field goal separated the two teams tonight and just one three with the same 3fg% of 16.7%. The teams were only separated by two rebounds, had the same number of steals and were in the same ball park on turns. The two big stats that stand out are the 10 blocks by the Thunder (3 for the Spurs) and the 9 extra charity stripe freebies. Nads Krstic was the man with three blocks and Kevin Durant had 13 of his 25 points at the line.
I thought most of the first half of tonight’s game was actually a little dull as far as entertainment value goes. I felt like we were actually kind of lucky to only be down by 7 at the break. We weren’t shooting especially well and weren’t defending to any great degree. We allowed the Spurs to drop 28 on us in the second quarter and shoot 8/16. The saving grace is that they were not hitting from deep.
Our guys in blue came out smokin’ in the third putting 14 quick points on the board in the first 4 minutes and knotting it up at 53 apiece. Whatever Brooks said at halftime was working as the Thunder seemed to have all the hustle and passion. We finished the third by scoring 32 points on 62.5% shooting while holding the Spurs to just 21 points.
The Spurs really made a tight game of it in the fourth quarter with much better shooting (10/21). The Thunder were really working and hustling on defense but almost shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and missed free throws. Still despite the missteps the drama at the end made the game that much more interesting and intense.
- Coach Pop was using a defensive scheme that the Thunder better get used to: denying Kevin Durant the ball and then if that fails, double team him as soon as he catches it. It worked really well in the second quarter. Most surprising is how George Hill was doing most of the denying. He was fronting KD and working hard to deny him any chance at handling the rock. I saw more than one turnover trying to get it to him and the rest of the Thunder offense drove to a grinding halt. It was with this scheme that the Spurs opened up a 1o point lead at 36-46. KD was 1-4 in his 9 minutes in the quarter.
- When I saw the starting lineup for San Antonio with DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan who was a game time decision I thought we would surely get the snot beaten out of us on the boards. Duncan vs Krstic and Blair vs. Green are just two uninspiring matchups for us as far as rebounds go. But Blair got his second foul fairly quickly in the first and didn’t play much (11 minutes/1 rebound) while Duncan did get 10 boards he spent a lot of his time out of the paint trying to defend Krstic. We actually won the board battle 40-38 and 10-8 on the Orebs.
- I was a big DeJuan Blair fan last year in College, and he is a bull, but at this level I’m not sure he is a full time starter anytime soon. He has to be able to defend somebody and the league is full of Power forwards and Centers that stretch the floor with outside shooting or move their feet well on pick and rolls. He got matched up on KD on a switch and he couldn’t begin to move his feet fast enough to stay in front of him.
- I was reading some pre-game stuff and found myself on Pounding the Rock where they had a preview for tonight’s game. There they had the head to head matchups (not being sure if Parker or Duncan would be playing). They had Richard Jefferson vs. Kevin Durant as “tied”. They had Matt Bonner and Krstic as advantage Spurs, and they had Russell Westbrook with a “slight advantage” over George Hill. Hmmm….me thinks somebody smokin’ the crack pipe.
- I thought tonight that we are really beginning to see the ref’s giving Kevin Durant the “superstar” calls. You know the ones like Kobe and LeBron and Carmelo get where just about anytime they miss a shot and there is somebody defending them the whistle blows? Not that KD isn’t working for his offense. He is driving the lane with authority and he’s not afraid to body up, but he is getting a lot of trips to the line on fouls that are hard to see.
- Speaking of fouls, I really like the Spurs and think they are a classy bunch, but is it just me or do they do a lot of crying about fouls?
- I enjoyed the couple of possessions where Ginobili was matched up with Harden. More than one guy (me included) thought that Harden’s game sort of resembled Ginobili’s what with both being lefty’s and going to the rim lefty so often. On one play Harden was dancing around a screen and took a little jab step and step back jumper and faked Ginobili back to Argentina.
- It’s been mentioned before but doesn’t it seem like we really bite on a lot of up fakes? I noticed a lot in the Orlando game and the second Sacto contest; tonight as well.
- My blood pressure went through the roof when Sefolosha missed the first free throw late in the fourth that could have put us up by seven, instead getting the lead at six. George Hill then made a stepback three to cut the game to just one possession. Later he (Sefolosha) botched the inbound pass which led to a turn with 30 seconds left down by three. Luckily he busted his arse to get down the court and help KD tie up Jefferson for a turn.
- Sefolosha had a genius backside block on a Tony Parker drive. He seems to play big time defense on the Spurs in general and Parker specifically. He blocked that game tying shot by Parker in the win last season.
- How about that breakaway coast to coast Harden jam? (the picture at the top of the page is that dunk I think. Notice Harden’s hand at Ginobli’s throat?) I thought it funny that KD was waving his arms yelling for a pass because he was open for a jumper. NOT! The beard also had a beautiful crossover and drive to the hole for an “AND1”.
- The “good” Westbrook was on display tonight. Check out his line: 19 points on 7/13 shooting, 11 assists, 5 boards and ZERO TURNOVERS. Nice!! He was still -1 on raw +/-, but the scoreboard tells all.
- It’s been noted before but did everyone notice that Ginobli finally accepted the obvious and got a little buzz cut thing going? And along those same lines Nads Krstic was clean shaven today instead of his usual “slept under the bridge/euro scruffy” look? Let’s hope that clean shaven thing makes it’s way up to the lid.
- There was a great sequence where Parker and Westbrook got tangled up fighting for a loose ball in the fourth and Parker went down. When he got up he was crying to the ref and jawing at Westbrook. It didn’t look like Westbrook had much to say in return, but on the next play he took Parker to the hole for a strong finish.