The Oklahoma City Thunder topped the San Antonio Spurs in a surprising turn of events. Oklahoma City popped the Spurs 102-92 and really in the second half the game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. Here are my five thoughts on the victory:
THE ANDRE EFFECT
Andre Roberson gets a lot of flack for his offense and rightfully so. Oklahoma City’s offense sometimes with him in the lineup can become stagnant and down right tough to watch. However, we saw last night why Roberson is in the starting line up. We saw last night why we sit through all of his frustrating shot selections. His defense was off the walls good last night against Kawhi Leonard. When everyone was talking about Leonard and his chance to sneak into the MVP conversation, it was Dre who slipped the muzzle on a player who had been biting the entire league. Leonard was a measly 19 points on 15 shots. That’s not very good for a player who is pretty efficient. Roberson was smothering and forced Leonard into nine contested shots, letting him only make four of them. If you’re the Thunder, this is what you want and it worked to their advantage all night.
THIS FELT LIKE A PLAYOFF GAME
As the season winds down, the games get more intense. The outcome is magnified, but last night Thunder fans brought it. They popped up and out all night long. The venue was rocking and the Peake, which at times has been dull this year, roared with that fire of the playoffs. Maybe it’s all of the many seasons making the playoffs. They could be a little board, it’s completely possible. However, the Thunder fans knowing a four-game losing streak was staring them dead in the eyes fought back and were loud and tenacious all evening long. The Spurs know better than anyone in the league of how intimidating the Peake can be when it’s at it’s best. Last night, the fans were at their best once again. It was a sight to see. Re-watching the game, you could tell even after halftime it was on point. That’s usually when we see fans in the lower bowl struggled to get back to their seat. However, they were ready for the Spurs.
DONOVAN IS GETTING CREATIVE
Some of the lineups he’s throwing out there are really unusual, but they’re working. It’s hard to knock a guy for what’s working. While we’re probably not going to see 99 percent of these come playoff time, the Thunder really are just trying to figure things out. Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott are trying to still find their place in the rotations. It’s easy to knock early struggles but in reality these players are still trying to find their role. It was all sunshine and bells when they first arrived and we went on a mini-win streak. The Thunder faced the cold heart of reality when they were hit with the losing streak. Oklahoma City, with Victor Oladipo back, are still finding this out. One thing we saw last night were some things that worked. McDermott looked more comfortable in his role and the Thunder powered through for the dub.
This was a move almost everyone saw coming but took some time to happen. It was well received by Thunder fans and it was easily the best offensive lineup of the night. The starting five had an offensive rating over 130 in 15 minutes last night. Obviously a small sample size, but the Thunder really seemed to give off to a hot start and they benefited from the sustained success of it all. It was weird though, Oklahoma City did not roll out their original starting lineup together at all last night. In fact, Domas Sabonis and Russell Westbrook only played six minutes together last night. However, it worked for Oklahoma City. Gibson was really in sync with the Thunder last night as he was back in his rightful position at starting. Donovan was smart in really only pairing Westbrook with Gibson. All 20 of his minutes were spent with Westbrook as his point guard.
THIS IS ONLY A BAND-AID
While Oklahoma City looked really good for most of the game. They never really allowed San Antonio back into the game. However, the Thunder realize this and most need to realize this is only a band-aid. This game is a blip in the grand scheme of things. Oklahoma City has dropped four in a row before this, so getting back on the winning track is nice. They have to find some consistency, which is something they’ve really been lacking all season long. Every time it appears Oklahoma City has found the promise land, the dark hand of defeat reaches up and drags us down with a losing streak that leaves more questions than ones that had been answered. If Oklahoma City can beat the Jazz on Saturday, it may appear things are going the right direction, but until then I’m keeping my cool on this solo victory.