So, I think the second unit might be just fine.
OK, that’s probably way too early of a judgment, but considering the way the Thunder, and more importantly the second unit, performed sans Eric Maynor for the first time definitely should make Thunder fans feel a tad bit better.
Powered by 53 bench points, Oklahoma City used a 37-21 third quarter to run the Spurs out of The Peake 108-96 and become the first team to sweep its back-to-back-to-back. Three nights, three wins.
Scott Brooks though wasn’t about to get too excited about handling the Spurs. He was happy to win, but wanted to keep it in perspective.
“You have to put things in proper perspective. Ginobili is a big part of their team and he didn’t play,” Brooks said. “A few other guys only played a few minutes and this was their fourth game in five nights.”
The Thunder took the game over and moved it into cruise control territory in the third quarter, but the bench sparked a big run in the second pretty much as soon as Reggie Jackson entered. With 2:20 left in the first Jackson entered and when he exited with about five left in the second, Oklahoma City had outscored the Spurs by 10. It didn’t have the same look as an Eric Maynor led bench mob, but the results were virtually the same. The Thunder’s bench did its job and Jackson did a very nice job at the helm.
“I thought he did well,” Brooks said. “I thought he did a really good job of picking his spots and running the team.”
It was a little hard to know how Scott Brooks would approach the rotation without Maynor. I thought Royal Ivey might see a bit of burn and who knows, he may have, except Jackson stepped up beautifully and played with confidence and comfort. No need to even think about Ivey. He’s not anywhere near the backup point man Maynor is and Jackson will have rookie struggles I’m sure, but for a first effort in a real role, it’s hard not to be impressed. Brooks handled it really well too. He didn’t baby Jackson along. He threw him right in where Maynor would normally go and let him play his game. Make mistakes, miss assignments — whatever. Just play.
The Thunder broke a six-game losing streak to the Spurs and did it with a little style. Holding the Spurs right at 40 percent, shooting 50 percent, killing the boards, closing down San Antonio’s perimeter game — all around a really solid, quality win for Oklahoma City. Especially considering the circumstances.
- KD was in legit triple-double territory with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Too bad he didn’t play any in the fourth quarter.
- Russell Westbrook played a messy, but solid game. He had 13 points on 13 shots with five assists, but was under control and made mostly smart plays.
- With Jackson running point, Brooks called out a lot more plays than he does with Westbrook. Not really surprising, but mildly interesting. At least to me.
- Harden has got his Eurostep game down. He juked Tiago Splitter with one in the first half that almost made me fall down.
- Scott Brooks quote tonight: “At times I try and muck up the lineups to try and create some confusion.” He was just answering a question about how Collison came in earlier than usual and his rotation was a little different. But still, that quote is fun in other ways.
- It’s weird how some players just have certain ticks. Like Jackson prefers to bring the ball up with his left hand and keeps his right up almost in a stop motion.
- Nick Collison with a double-double. And Thabo had nine and swished two corner 3s. At one point in the first half, Thabo and Collison were outscoring Durant and Westbrook 19-4.
- Sometimes it can just seem like Serge Ibaka is everywhere. He had three blocks but seemed like he nearly blocked 30.
- My favorite part of the game was when Collison was totally abusing Matt Bonner. That was everything I ever wanted in a basketball game.
- I think this was the first time in four or five games that KD didn’t split his first two free throws. And he went 10-10 for the game.
- As James Harden walked back onto the court after each timeout, he held up six fingers, said “six” and tapped his chest. Nice gesture for Maynor. Harden also said the team’s dedicated the season for Maynor.
- Said Harden: “The whole season is now for Eric. It’s a tough loss. We were all sad. We got to spend some time with him last night at his house just giving some comfort and showing him how much we care.”
- You know who really enjoys dancing during pregame intros? Russell Westbrook.
- I’m liking Westbrook’s post-up game quite a lot, but one thing he has to improve on is not going tunnel vision once he gets there. He has to improve passing the ball out of it. Teams are wanting to double him a bit when he gets it on the block because he’s so much bigger and stronger than other point guards, but Westbrook had to take full advantage of his post game.
- Westbrook needs to just take an extra tenth of a second to gather himself before firing a 3. He’s set, but almost too set, if that makes sense. He’s completely rigid. Either a dribble or just a hop might help him. Just a thought.
- Scott Brooks pulled out one of my favorite coach complain moves: Complain the ref you think missed the call and when he doesn’t agree, complain all the way across the court to another one so that the other guy hears it. Totally shows up the first ref.
- The halftime show was some dude named Rubber Boy and he basically tore every ligament and broke every bone in his body for about eight minutes. No thanks, I saw plenty of ligament damage already in Houston.
- Brian Davis Line of the night courtesy of @ThunderBDSays: “Collison! just like he snuck into the kitchen and took the last couple out of mama’s cookie jar!”
Next up: At Memphis Tuesday.