Sunday night started with the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder battling for the number one seed in the Western conference. By the time fourth quarter began, the game looked like a practice session for one team, and a resting period for another as the Thunder defeated the Spurs 108-96 in Oklahoma City as the Thunder became the first team to sweep a set of back-to-back-to-backs.
Though Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 21 points, James Harden was the biggest difference maker in the game as he fueled a 9-0 run in the first three minutes of the second quarter to push the Thunder’s lead into double-digits. The Thunder would never trail again.
At the beginning of the first quarter, Gary Neal had seven early points for the Spurs, but the Thunder made a charge to end the first quarter leading 24-22. Tiago Splitter and Harden both had big roles off of the bench with six points each.
The Thunder’s 9-0 run to start the second quarter led them to a 54-48 halftime lead as the Spurs had early turnovers which were converted into easy points for the Thunder. The Thunder outscored San Antonio 30-26 in the second quarter. Though the Spurs shot 50% from behind the arc, the Thunder did an excellent job on defense in holding the Spurs to just four three point attempts in the first half.
The Spurs got the Thunder’s lead down to three points behind a three by Richard Jefferson, but The Thunder’s 37-point third quarter to the Spurs’ 21 point third was too much as the team trailed 91-69 going into the fourth quarter. It didn’t seem like a back-to-back-to-back game for the Thunder’s young legs.
"They played very well and kicked our butts in the third quarter," said San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the game.
Both Tony Parker and DeJuan Blair left midway through the third quarter with minor injuries. Though neither returned in the game, their injuries aren't expected to be major issues.
The white flag seemed to have been thrown in the fourth quarter as only Neal saw floor time as a starter. The young guys showed defense in holding the Thunder’s second unit to 17 points in the fourth, and they also chipped in 27 points on offense, however the margin was just too much for the group of James Anderson, Kawhi Leonard, Ike Diogu, and Danny Green to comeback.
With the loss, the Spurs stay winless on the road (0-3) and 6-3 overall. The team will try to earn it’s first road win of the season as they travel to play in Milwaukee on Tuesday where they’ll face the new look Bucks led by Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut, and Stephen Jackson.
Analyzing the Loss
- Don’t look too much into this loss as the Spurs obviously didn’t have their legs on the second night of a back-to-back as they only connected on 35 of their 84 shots (42%). The Thunder didn’t look tired as they shot 51% in the game. Early turnover by the Spurs in the second and third quarter also added the Thunder’s big win.
- One player to keep an eye on is point guard Tony Parker. Parker only had four points on 1-of-8 shooting in 25 minutes, but the cause for concern is Parker’s shot selection. Parker isn’t driving to the basket nearly as much as he has been in past seasons. Credit Russell Westbrook guarding him and Parker also having to guard Westbrook. But nine game's into the season, “TP” isn’t “TP.”
- Richard Jefferson’s consistency this season is a major plus for the Spurs as he scored 13 points and shot 3-of-4 from behind the arc in 19 minutes.
- Gary Neal’s production continues to increase as he led the team with 18 points and shot 2-of-3 from the three-point line in a season high 28 minutes. The Spurs will need consistent production from Neal on offense with Ginobili out and Parker’s sign of fatigue.
- With his new role as the team’s sixth man, Green came off of the bench to finish with six points on 2-of-7 shooting. He had a sluggish first half, so Anderson came in off the bench to be the first wing player off the bench in the third quarter. But Anderson didn’t produce much and the opposition usually scored on him.
Rookie Leonard recorded the first double-double of his career with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while also adding two assists, and two steals in 34 minutes of action. Leonard also spent some extended time defending Durant. After the game, coach Popovich said he wanted Leonard to get some experience defending one of the league’s scoring machines. Pop said he wasn’t going to pull Leonard out; he wanted him to gain the experience.
TP is not the type of guy you rely on this situation. That's why he is replaceable at some point. The Spurs gambled on him and let George Hill go, that kills us.
No complains. The thunders won fair and square. Really, the spurs has nothing to check westbrook and big man collison. The scheduling is not an issue. Its the thunders that played 3 straight nights and still won. While the spurs can't play back to back. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. TD and TP didn't return in 4th quarter. And, the bench was inconsistent except Neal and Jefferson. The spurs has to look closer to its lineup. They can't play with tall guys. Not TD, not Blair, not Splitter. Ike Diogu was used but its clear he was used because the margin is so big. That's not the way to play a newcomer. He must be given regular playing time not garbage, not when the opposing team is so far ahead. The spurs should also look for another pf/c. The thunders is just the beginning.
just when i give credit to green he falls in to poo poo mode again. i have to agree in part with spurs123, i have said it for a couple yrs now, bonner needs to go. his floor spacing used to help get guys like duncan and parker a bit more open in the paint, now either they are not attacking as much or bonner isnt spacing the floor like he used to. everyone knows he is going to fade in the playoffs as well. and before a certain someone comes in complaining about the bigs, they held their own just fine with the exception of the already mentioned bonner. im not sure who guarded durant the most but who ever did, slowed him from scoring 40 but he did get 10 fts, 10 boards, 7 assists and shot better then 50%. our defense the last 2 games has been TERRIBLE! no other words but TERRIBLE!
RJ has played outstanding this season and has been our only consisted player this season and he deserves a lot of credit for the Spurs wins so far. TP has been awful -- he's taking too many mid ranged jumpshots that I really don't like seeing out of a point guard. Duncan has also been terrible, and I think it has come to the point where we should stop letting Duncan take so many shots -- he should be the Tiago type where he only takes shots when he is wide open. This game could have been much closer if two things were different; 1. the officiating was awful (I know that it happens every game where one team gets the calls over the other, but some of the calls were just terrible like the Ibaka and one layup in the third quarter that is probably in the highlight video on www.nba.com); 2. if Matt Bonner didn't exist (he's the player that all Spurs fans love at times and hate at other times, but I have come to the conclusion that he should just leave. His defense is terrible (he let Nick Collison (NICK COLLISON?!?) score 10 straight points in the second quarter) and when he isn't making three's, he's useless on offense as well.) It's time that we let Bonner go unless he can miraculously become outstanding on defense. We should look to trade Bonner, give Duncan fewer shot attempts, and look to teach our younger guys how to play. Green, Anderson, Splitter, Leonard, Blair, and Neal look to be a solid lineup for our future, so let's teach them how to play instead of letting the scrub Bonner play so much. People have put the blame on RJ for the playoffs last year, but it was more Bonner's fault in my opinion because of his terrible defense.