After 20 consecutive wins and an offensive performance for the ages on Tuesday night, the Spurs came crashing to Earth with a 102-82 loss in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder raced to an 8-0 lead to start the game, and while the Spurs rebounded to lead 24-22 after the first stanza, they were blitzed for the rest of the game. Kevin Durant led the scoring for OKC with 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting, but the Thunder’s 102 points were perfectly spread out with Thabo Sefolosha adding 19 (including 4 triples), James Harden putting up 15, Serge Ibaka scoring 14, and Russell Westbrook, on an off-night, scoring only 10 points, but adding 9 assists.
The tide of the game turned when the Thunder dominated the second quarter to the tune of a 32-17 advantage. San Antonio shot just 6 of 17 in the 2nd quarter after a series of adjustments from the OKC defense, and the Thunder took the lead and never looked back. I actually thought that the OKC crowd was huge in swinging the momentum here, as the Thunder’s young core seemed to rise to the occasion with every explosion from the raucous environment.
On the Spurs end of things, I thought it was as simple as a poor shooting night. After 20 straight wins, a stinker is almost inevitable, but the Spurs shooting sub-40% from the field for a game seemed impossible if you’ve watched them play the last couple of weeks. That said, no single Spur had an above-average game offensively, and with Duncan and Ginobili combining to shoot just 6-for-20 for 19 points, combining with Diaw and Leonard teaming up for just 3 points, it’s tough for San Antonio to get a road win.
There are two important things I gleamed from tonight with one on each side. For OKC, Scottie Brooks finally made the adjustment to sit Derek Fisher down (he played 21 minutes, but a lot of them were late) and go with more optimal lineups. We all remember the near-legendary moments that Fisher put together in LA, but at this stage, he’s a liability in nearly every aspect, and I’d really like to see more of Sefolosha in his place simply because Thabo is an elite defender and likely the equal of Fisher offensively at this point. On the San Antonio end, Greg Popovich seemed to punt this game late (with good reason), but basically didn’t panic at all and has shown the willingness to sit his guys down when the cause is bleak. No Spur played more than 28 minutes here, and that’s a fantastic decision. I think Pop is the picture of everything you’d want in an NBA coach, and this was another reminder of that for me.
Where are we going forward? I firmly believe that San Antonio is in full control of this series, and will continue to be until they finish the Thunder off. My original pick of San Antonio in 5 would be the baseline for me still at this point, and I’d be surprised if the offensive struggles continued for the Spurs. For OKC, this is another glimpse into how fantastic they can be when they’re on, and for me, losing this series wouldn’t be an indictment at all, but rather a look into the greatness of San Antonio, while a win in the series for the Thunder could be a stepping stone into special things for that young core of stars.
San Antonio Leads Series 2-1