See here’s the thing: The Spurs are really good. That’s the first thing to recognize about this game. The San Antonio Spurs are absolutely as good as anyone in the league. There’s no doubt about it.
However, and this is an excuse I realize, but Oklahoma City was playing just 24 hours after a hard fought, up and down affair against the Hawks against a well rested San Antonio team that happens to have the best record in the NBA, and is undefeated at home since the start of December. Winning was going to be a challenge. Possibly even a miracle.
But that doesn’t excuse the total egg laid by the Thunder. From the opening tip it was obvious that the Spurs were ready and OKC wasn’t. The Thunder started the game just 4-22 and had seven turnovers in the first 15 minutes. At one point, OKC trailed by 18 in the first half. Even with the excuses of heavy legs and on the road, the Thunder’s just too good of a team with too much talent to let that happen.
Really the only player that appeared excited to play in the first half was Serge Ibaka who had 11 points, nine rebounds and was fighting his butt off on the inside against Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair. Everyone else seemed to be coasting a bit. You can get away with those types of things against lesser teams on the second night of a back-to-back but against the league’s best, you better be ready.
Russell Westbrook played easily his worst game of the season, turning the ball over six times while only dishing out two assists. Kevin Durant just never had the opportunity to really get in a flow finishing with only 16 points on 7-15 shooting. Jeff Green was 2-9 from the field. And if the bench hadn’t played the entire fourth there wouldn’t be any stats to speak of from them sans Ibaka.
I don’t think there’s anything deeper to look into with this loss as in OKC isn’t worthy of playing with the class of the NBA or anything, but it’s clearly an embarrassing loss, just because how it happened. OKC was outclassed for 48 full minutes by a better team.
But while the team doesn’t want to hear the excuses, they are good ones. It was a stretch to think the Thunder would win in San Antonio and while we probably didn’t see a 27-point beatdown coming, it would’ve just been nice to be in the game in the fourth.
- I don’t love Scott Brooks waving the white flag to start the fourth. The Thunder trailed 77-53 and while the game was almost definitely over, I think letting the starters play some would’ve been worth the shot to see if they could put together a 10-0 run or something. But then again, Brooks might’ve been so disgusted with their effort that he didn’t want to watch them anymore.
- Serge Ibaka finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. His mid-range jumper had cooled a bit, but he’s really the only good thing to take from this whooping.
- The Spurs outscored OKC 60-26 in the paint. Ouch.
- Jeff Green did work hard on the glass though, pulling in seven boards in 27 minutes. Rebounding wasn’t a big issue for OKC tonight, which is something you’d expect against the Spurs.
- This was a game where the Thunder desperately needed that bench spark from James Harden. While he finished with 12 points, he didn’t score his first bucket until the start of the fourth. Pretty much nobody had anything going offensively.
- Sometimes Tim Duncan just has to remind everyone that he’s not done yet. He put up 21 and nine boards and showed off how excellent he still is. He’s just the perfect veteran at this point. He steps up when he needs to and lets his guys do it other times.
- At a couple points OKC would score six straight and you’d think, “OK, here comes a little run. We’re getting back in this.” But then the Spurs would score four straight and just keep the distance where it seemed insurmountable. The sign of a great team.
- That’s one thing to note: A lot of this was just missing shots. The Thunder made a bunch against the Hawks and missed a bunch against the Spurs. Clearly the Spurs have a lot to do with it, but sometimes you just don’t shoot well. It happens.
- Probably the biggest problem besides the bad shooting was 19 turnovers. You can’t San Antonio that many extra possessions.
- OKC was just 1-7 from 3. This coming after a 10-18 effort against the Hawks. So much for that being a sign of good things to come.
- I was watching the game with a friend of mine and we were talking about why OKC can’t find itself a Gary Neal. Or Matt Bonner. Why/how do the Spurs always find those guys? Is it like a Yankees mystique thing where when someone puts on the uniform their confidence goes up and they play better by osmosis or is San Antonio just that good at finding diamonds in the rough. Why can’t the Thunder get one of those guys? WHY?
- I don’t know who the guy was that said he had a good feeling about this one today, but man, what a moron.
KD tweeted after the game: “Listen to killa cam and vado on the way back to Okc…don’t even wanna talk about that damn game…movin on..” That’s the thing to do after this one. Move on. It’s over, it was a butt whipping, but it’s done with. It’s one more of the long 82-game marathon and you lost to the best in the league. The way you lost isn’t that wonderful and there’s reason to be upset at the effort, but moving on is the only thing you can do.
I think everyone keeps expecting this team to get “it” like now. But I don’t want them getting it New Year’s Day. I want them coming together at the end of March and into April. One game doesn’t mean that they aren’t good anymore or that their 23-12 record is a lie. It just means there’s more work to be done and room to improve. Moving on, indeed.
Next up: At Memphis Tuesday night.