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Thunder end road trip with loss in San Antonio

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Quite possibly the most challenging month in the history of the Oklahoma City Thunder finally came to an end Tuesday night in San Antonio as the Thunder fell short to the Gregg Popovich-lead Spurs 108-94.

Tuesday night’s game was much like a roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs intertwined throughout. Oklahoma City trailed by as much as 18 in the second quarter, and trailed by as many as 17 in the third quarter.

However, they kept fighting, and even proceeded to take a lead in the third quarter, although it was short-lived. After trailing by 17, Oklahoma City went on a 25-4 scoring run, a run that was aided by a San Antonio offensive stalemate that lasted from the 8:43 mark in the third quarter until the 2:42 mark.

“We took the lead and obviously, working to get back like we did, we probably needed a little more sustainability throughout that last 24 minutes,” Billy Donovan said.

Oklahoma City was able to take the lead, but soon surrendered it right back to the Spurs, and San Antonio never looked back.

The Spurs lead 79-75 heading into the fourth, and once the fourth period started, they took hold of the game for good. The Thunder’s second unit that started the 4th quarter went 1-of-7 from the field, and were outscored 9-2.

By the time Russell Westbrook and his compadres re-entered the game, the Spurs lead 88-77 and never looked back from there.

Kawhi Leonard dominated the fourth quarter, pouring in 20 points in the final period. Leonard finished the night with 36 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. This was his 15th 30 point game of the season. Coming into this season, Leonard only had 10 30-point outputs for his entire career.

While the Thunder’s defense kept them in the ballgame tonight, their offensive deficiencies were too much to overcome.

Oklahoma City shot 30-of-85 from the field on the night, totaling a measly 35.3 percent. The shooting woes didn’t just stop there, however. Oklahoma City only shot 25 percent from long distance, going 7-of-28 on the night.

The rebounding battle between both teams was dead even, with each team allocating 50 rebounds.

Oklahoma City out-assisted San Antonio 21-16, and also had 10 more fast break points than the Spurs. While Oklahoma City had 20 turnovers compared to San Antonio’s 17, Oklahoma City actually outscored the Spurs off turnovers 24-14.

While the team as a whole wasn’t very efficient offensively, this was not the case for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook finished the night with 27 points, including 3-of-7 from the three point line. Westbrook also poured in 14 assists.

While the Thunder’s resilience was respectable, their offensive ineptitude and poor shooting did them in.

“With our team and our margin of error, we’re not in a position where we can have lapses for a half or a lot of turnovers,” Donovan said.

Oklahoma City will look to get back on track tomorrow night as they face the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tip off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Force Turnovers:  B-

The Thunder were able to turn the Spurs over 17 times tonight, which is above their season average of 12.9. Following this further, the Thunder were able to turn those 17 turnovers into 24 points.

Bench Scoring: F

The bench had an awful game. Anthony Morrow scored 11 points, and the rest of the bench players combined only had 11 points. Without Abrines and Kanter due to injury, it’s expected for the bench to drop off a little, but it’s unacceptable for Cameron Payne and Jerami Grant to only contribute five points between the two of them to the bench unit.

Pound the Glass: B

While the Thunder didn’t dominate the glass, they also didn’t get dominated on the glass. Both teams finished the game with 50 rebounds, and Oklahoma City had 12 offensive rebounds compared to San Antonio’s 10. While they weren’t dominant on the boards, I can live with the rebounding performance.

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