Tony Parker turned back to clock tonight and played like it was 2004. He scored 42 points, but it might as well been 82 points. He absolutely obliterated the Thunder defense all night. He and Tim Duncan worked the pink-n-roll game perfectly tonight. The Thunder tried its hardest in the fourth quarter to make it interested – cutting it to 8 points late in the final frame – but it was too little too late, as the boys in blue fell to the Spurs 107-96.
The story of the first half was how the Spurs shot 9-13 from behind the three-point arc. I would like to say that they were just lucky, but if I did that, I would ignoring the fact that the Thunder were leaving the three-point shooters WIDE open. As in the Clipper game, if you leave good or even average shooters wide open, they will make you pay. Many of the defensive breakdowns were a result of the success of the pick-n-roll. Our bigs were having to swing out very wide to stop the ball, which caused the back-side defender to over help on the weak side. Once the ball was swung around, there was no time to recover to the shooter.
The Thunder’s pick-n-roll defense is a huge concern. This weakness has been exposed in both losses this week. The Clippers abused the Thunder with it. Now the Spurs (and more specifically, Tony Parker) did tonight. I have no doubt that the pick-n-roll defense will improve when Thabo gets back into the lineup, but the coaching staff needs to emphasize this moving forward.
I didn’t think the Thunder were out of this game until about halfway through the third quarter. It really felt like the Thunder gave up in the third quarter. They stopped running any semblance of an offensive set. They started being sloppy with the ball. They even looked as if they were giving up on defense. I was very disappointed. However, the reserves came in at the beginning of the fourth quarter and went on a little bit of a run, which at least gave the team a chance to get back in it. In the end, the Spurs and Parker were just too good tonight and the Thunder slip to 18-5 on the season.
Post Game Grades
James Harden: B
Harden scored 19 points on 5-10 shooting and went 9-10 from the free throw line. He played a good game by all accounts, but he just didn’t have a huge impact in the outcome. Most of that was because the Thunder got down by so many points in the third quarter that it was difficult to go on an extended run. Harden’s free throw shooting was the one bright spot in that category, as the team missed 11 out of 28 attempts from the charity stripe. That is very uncharacteristic of the Thunder, but it was just one of many reasons why this game wasn’t close. A positive to take away from this is that Harden played a good game on the road. The Thunder will need him to play well in the tough stretch of road games.
Extra Opportunities: C
The Thunder gave up 11 offensive rebounds, which isn’t ideal. However, it is better than what they have been allowing in a few past games. The Thunder only had 13 turnovers, but the timing of many had impact on the game. A lot of the turnovers were caused by players being overaggressive. When they get down, it is a common tendency to press too hard. Sometime it is more beneficial to just slow down and focus on getting a higher quantity of quality shots.
Fast Break Points: C-
The Thunder did not get a lot of chances to run the fast break tonight. That tends to happen when your opponent shoots a very high percentage. When they did get the chance to run, they were successful, scoring 13 points of 10 Spurs’ turnovers.
Thoughts on the Game:
- Durant was pretty much getting whatever he wanted early in this game. Then, for some unexplained reason, they stopped feeding him the ball. I would like to think this game would have turned out differently had the Thunder kept feeding Durant the ball early in this game
- Durant had a very pretty pass to Ibaka in the first quarter where Ibaka finished with the one-handed dunk. He did the Air Congo afterward, so that was nice.
- Parker became the all-time Spurs leaders in assists tonight. That was good for him to get the record before they went out on their road trip, but I wish isn’t was at the Thunder’s expense.
- What was up with the “Text Question” of the game for Grant Long tonight? It was something to the effect of “What does it mean when a player is ‘in the zone’?” Umm… it means he’s in the zone. Is there another way to explain it? Obviously not, because Grant Long didn’t have the slightest clue how to explain it.
- Durant finished with a double-double – 22 points and 11 rebounds. He has been a rebounding fool the past week. That makes five straight double doubles for Durant. I would say he is giving that one player down in South Beach some pretty good competition for the MVP.
- Perkins was not very good tonight. He picked up two quick fouls and never really had an impact on the game. Although he didn’t pick up a technical foul tonight, so that’s a positive.
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