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Thunder Kicks Spurs 108-96, Wins Third Straight

The Thunder finished off an impressive stretch of three wins in three nights by downing the Spurs 108-96 at the Thunderdome Sunday night. The win came only hours after receiving news that back-up point guard, Eric Maynor, will miss the remainder of the 2011-2012 season due to an ACL tear. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 21 points on 5-9 shooting, who played his best all-around game of the season.

Durant was involved in all facets of the game. He was in legitimate triple double territory, finishing with ten rebounds and seven assists. Had Durant played his usual allotted minutes (he only played 29), it is likely that the headline would have been about Durant’s first career triple double. Also, put all the free throw fears away because Durant nailed all ten of his free throw attempts.

The Thunder became the first team in the NBA this season to win all three games of a back-to-back-to-back stretch, which says a lot about this young team. The Thunder had a six-point lead going into halftime, but the Thunder outscored the Spurs 37 to 21 in the third quarter to essential put the game away. A big question mark coming into this contest was how the second unit would respond in the first game without Maynor. Rookie PG Reggie Jackson filled Maynor’s roll wonderfully playing 23 minutes, scoring 11 points, dishing 4 assists and only turning the ball over twice.

Jackson did a great job of playing aggressively, yet still being under control. He took shots when he had them and did his best to find the open man in the flow of the offense. Jackson will not replace everything that Maynor brought to the Thunder, but if he plays consistently like he did last night, the second unit will continue to have success.

Post Game Grades

Defending the Three: C+

The Spurs shot a ridiculous 58% from three-point range, which they are always capable of doing. However, what saved the Thunder from getting an F in this category was the fact that they limited the Spurs to only 12 three-point attempts. The Thunder did a great job closing out on shooters all night, forcing the perimeter shooters to drive in the lane. Once in the lane, our bigs did a wonderful job contesting shots and making it hard to get a clean look at the rim.

Rebound: A-

I would have given the team a straight up A had the Thunder not bean beaten on the offensive glass. The Thunder out-rebounded the Spurs 48-42, however, the Spurs grabbed ten offensive boards to the Thunder’s seven. A greater focus has been placed on rebounding the past three games and the results have been positive. The Thunder need to continue this trend because when they rebound well, the outcome is usually good.

Push the Ball: B

The Thunder was pretty average in the transition game. The Thunder usually like to get out and push the ball, so I imagine a big part of the Spurs’ game plan was centered around stopping the Thunder’s transition offense. The Spurs did a fair job with this objective. On a side note, how bad is Thabo at leading the fast break? He has tunnel vision on the fast break. He does a fantastic job filling the lanes on the break if he doesn’t have the ball, but it seems like he NEVER finds the open man if he is leading the break.

Thoughts on the game

• More on Jackson: He is a different player than Maynor. Jackson is more similar to Westbrook than to Maynor. Jackson is super athletic and can create his own shot a lot like Westbrook does. Jackson needs to come in the game and focus on finding shots for his teammates first. If he does that, I think his offense will come to him more naturally.
• Serge Ibaka has registered a total of five assists in three games. That may not seem like a lot, but Ibaka rarely ever had an assist last season. It seems like Ibaka is making an exerted effort to find open guys. This is an exciting trend for Ibaka’s development.
• Oh yeah, Serge had three blocks tonight, but it felt like 20. That one block on Duncan was sick.
• Collision was a +19 in the +/- statistic. That is simply incredible. Oh and by the way, he abused Matt Bonner on offensive tonight. Collision dunked on him so hard.
• Thabo nailed both of the corner threes he attempted tonight. It always makes me feel good inside when one of his three goes down. I never expect it to, so it’s like a bonus when he makes it.
• How about Nazr with two steals? Nice.
• Westbrook didn’t have a great night shooting the ball but he did finish with five assists and only two turnovers. Westbrook needs to be a better passer out of his new post-up move. He usually draws the double team, so it would be nice if he could find a cutter to the basket every now and then.

Next up: The Grizzlies in Memphis Tuesday night. It’s always tough to win there, regardless if Z-Bo is out.

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