El Conclusion: Oklahoma City Thunder 113, San Antonio Spurs 100


Oklahoma City Thunder 113 FinalRecap | Box Score 100 San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan, PF Shot Chart 35 MIN | 7-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -10

Dealing with that Thunder frontcourt is a difficult task on any night, let alone when you’re without your team’s best backcourt rebounder. Duncan was pretty good, all things considered. And this was a tough one. He scored efficiently and rebounded well in those 35 minutes, and the Spurs needed every bit of that just to keep up.

Tiago Splitter, C Shot Chart 24 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +4

He was pretty rough offensively against the long arms of Oklahoma City, but his rebounding and defense in the second half were crucial to the charges the Spurs made. Though they obviously weren’t enough. Still, his contributions on the defensive side were very important to the process.

Tony Parker, PG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 6-14 FG | 11-13 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | -6

Tony Parker really struggled to get going in the first quarter, missing a bunch of shots inside in the early going. He did wake, however, but San Antonio found itself behind the eight-ball. His box score probably should have been even better, but he did get to the free throw line a season high 13 times, and that was important for a team that doesn’t get to the stripe very often.

Marco Belinelli, SG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 6-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -13

Marco got the start tonight in place of Kawhi Leonard, who was a late scratch after a dental procedure left him unable to play. He started the game absolutely on fire, hitting his first five 3-point attempts. He missed his final three, but a couple of those were in what was essentially garbage time. It was his shooting that kept San Antonio in the game during that second quarter that saw the Thunder rack up 40 points. His defense wasn’t great, but he was given a task he’ll never have under normal circumstances.

Danny Green, SG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -10

Danny wasn’t great from the field once again, and he had a couple more of those “holy crap what the hell” turnovers. But his defense on everyone from Kevin Durant to Russell Westbrook to Reggie Jackson was impressive, considering he learned about two hours before tip Leonard wouldn’t be guarding the league’s best scorer. Unfortunately, with all the weapons OKC possesses, it didn’t matter as much as it normally would.

Matt Bonner, PF Shot Chart 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | 0

Logged 1:47, hit a three and grabbed a board. Just didn’t play enough.

Boris Diaw, PF Shot Chart 29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -15

Boris had a pretty nice stat line, but he seemed to be hesitating more than he has all season. It slowed the rhythm of the offense at times, it seemed. Other than that, it was another good performance on both sides of the ball. The numbers just felt a little empty.

Aron Baynes, PF Shot Chart 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -2

He got an early chance to contribute, and he was awful. Two fouls and two turnovers in fewer than two minutes.

Patty Mills, PG Shot Chart 15 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -7

His job is to spark the offense, and the team hardly did a thing on that side of the ball when he was on the floor. He remained a pest defensively (in a good way) and gave OKC a few issue, but this was one of Patty’s inconsistent nights. He’s going to be up and down all season.

Cory Joseph, PG Shot Chart 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0

Normally this would be an inc. because he hardly played, but man, that attempt at a floater…… blergh.

Manu Ginobili, SG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -6

Manu didn’t shoot well in this one, and Oklahoma City’s length and pressure are issues for the sixth man. Also, his turnover in the 10-minute mark of the fourth that led to a breakaway Jackson dunk was an absolute momentum destroyer.

Jeff Ayres, PF Shot Chart DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |


Kawhi Leonard, SF Shot Chart DNP DENTAL SURGERY MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |


Gregg Popovich

I’m honestly not sure what he was supposed to do in this one. Kawhi Leonard is such a crucial element to the Spurs’ success against Oklahoma City, and to find out just two hours before the game that he wouldn’t be available just wrecks a game plan. And really not even that, as San Antonio doesn’t really specify a game plan on a night-by-night basis. But there’s no question it just changes the way the group functions as a whole.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Spurs have absolutely zero chance of beating the Thunder without Kawhi Leonard. Because of the way OKC operates, and because of the personnel it utilizes, Leonard’s absence break downs the defensive system. Tough circumstances.
  2. Marco Belinelli continues to fire away at an unbelievable rate. He’s now shooting 54 percent from the 3-point line this season. The NBA record for percentage in a season: 53.6 percent.
  3. Tony looked decent in his return, but he said he wasn’t 100 percent. Things will get better.
  4. San Antonio lost the rebound battle, 48-37, which was one of the areas I identified pre-game as a matchup to watch. The Thunder are so big and athletic, and without Leonard on the floor snagging rebounds as Duncan, Splitter and Co. battle for position, it becomes a major team effort and occupies more players than it normally would.
  5. Kawhi Leonard’s absence causes a domino effect. When he’s off the floor, it creates major problems up and down the roster as other players are forced to maintain roles to which they’re not accustomed.

  • JT

    I have no idea how Splitter gets a B, the guy sucks. His offense is so bad and his rebounding is questionable at best.

  • JT

    Our defense needs to switch on screens, time and time again, we get 2 guys chasing and leaving an open roller. Why do we keep doing this.

  • SpursfaninNYC

    taigo score makes no sense. okc reveals how weak he is every time we play them.

  • spurs10

    Good read. ”Domino effect.” Exacty…..

  • Matthew R Tynan

    I can’t get into this, so I’m going to just leave it here … if you can’t understand Splitter’s value to this team, then we’ve got nothing for you. As much as we’ve written about him, you’d think by now you guys would understand how incredibly important he is.

  • Dwarch

    Does someone can tell Pop consider hiring the French (yes another one) forward Florent Pietrus?
    Perfect backup for Kawhi. It can guard almost all 3 and 4 in the league, is a fantastic offensive rebounder, and is already used to play with 3 spurs players.

    and … it is not expensive at all.

  • Nima K.

    I suppose I’m thinking what everyone else here is also thinking: when are we going to win a team that actually matters and is a contender?

  • rj

    did you guys out there forget how we got demolished by indiana after splitter left the game? 11 rebounds against a long, active okc frontline is nothing to sluff off.
    we needed kawhi’s rebounding badly. maybe this game will give danny some confidence seeing as how we was our primary defensive stopper.
    bobo passed up so many open threes. ugh. know he isn’t a huge threat from beyond the arc, but he needs to take what’s open. that’s what our system is all about.
    more tiago jump shots please :)

  • JT

    If you think Tiago is worth only $300k less than Duncan and also $8 million more than Adams from the Thunder, yeah right. He may play defense, but still very one dimensional, we can’t count on him to score at all, and he isn’t a shot blocker so he isn’t going to help much with very athletic teams.

    I don’t think Indiana going crazy after Splitter left had anything to do with him leaving, if you have watched Indiana, that’s what they do, they come out slow and then kill you in the second half.

  • Lukedawg

    I wondered the same thing last week and then got treated to a barrage of, “relax, it’s December” articles. And Yes there is always some truth to that cliche and I agree it certainly is not a time to panic. But worst case scenario, and i hate to mention it, what if the reason the spurs have played 3 months of basketball now without beating another contender (now in 6 chances!) Is simply because they are just a half step below these other teams. Is it blasphemy to even consider such a thing as a possibility? Yes I read all the convenient excuses listed in previous articles about tough schedules and injuries. But every other team has to play back to backs and deal with injuries as well. My point is, though, is it really too early to atleast start identifying trends to see if there is a deeper issue involved, other than just saying, “it’s December”? The great thing about December assessments is that it allows you time to make tweaks to improve your team. If you wait till March, you are pretty much stuck.

  • Graham

    I feel I need to point out that’s exactly what we mean by ‘it’s December’. We have more than half a season’s worth of tweaks and feeling out of the roster and new rotations to find that ideal mix. This happens every year, but people seem to be freaking out more about it this year because we lack a ‘signature win’. Hopefully this’ll die down once we inevitably notch a few against the elite teams.

  • Graham

    Judging guys against rookie deals is foolish. It’d be like comparing Kawhi’s deal against someone like Iggy or Deng. Tiago fits the contract just fine, it’s quite literally market value for his skillset.

  • Tyler

    Are we really worried about Tiago scoring? If we are counting on Tiago to score come playoffs, something has gone horribly wrong. The fact is, offense isn’t going to be the problem for this team. For the last few years the Spurs have been at or near the the top in offensive efficiency.

    Most of Tiago’s value is on the defensive side of the ball where he is one of the best at defending the paint. If I’m not mistaken, Matt Tynan wrote a piece on this very fact. And as far as Tiago’s “value” goes, look at the contracts for rim protecting bigs (Chandler, Sanders, Hibert, Asik, Noah, Jordan, Gasol, Favors, Ibaka, etc.) and I think you’ll find it’s hard to argue Tiago is overpaid.

  • ThatBigGuy

    It is too early to identify trends, especially if you have watched SA for the past decade. Pop always sacrifices wins before the Rodeo Road Trip in order to fiddle with the rotation. He does this for two reasons: 1. To allow the bench to find its own pecking order, and 2. Keep the other contenders from locking in on SA’s “trends.” The win/loss record simply doesn’t matter until the RRT.

  • LukeDawg

    I don’t necessarily disagree with any of that, points well taken. But at the same time, you seem to be assuming that everything is fixable from within. Yes there is still half of an NBA season remaining to make tweaks with the current roster, and yes, things like this have happened for the last several years. But that is hardly a comforting thought, I don’t want to have to remind you what the end result of the last 6 seasons were, seasons that might suggest an extra move might should have been made. There are less than 2 months remaining if it is deemed that the spurs are actually a player short. Now maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, that is for PATFO to decide. But either way, this is why December assessments are important.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Tiago’s contribution isn’t measured in simple per game stats. You have to dig deeper. When you do, you’ll find that last season, he was top-10 in Offensive Rating (ahead of Parker and Harden) and Top-15 in Defensive Rating (ahead of Dwight and Ibaka). You’ll also find that he was #8 over all in Win Shares Per 48 Minutes, ahead of luminaries such as Carmelo, Griffin, Curry, Wade, and even Timmy.

    That being said, he’s worth $10 million a year simply so that Timmy doesn’t have to guard guys like Brook Lopez, Howard, Gortat, and Pekovic every night.

  • LukeDawg

    Except in a loaded west, home court advantage is more important than ever, thus making games in November/December more important than ever. Even the staunchest of Spurs homers wouldn’t classify a tilt In the WCF against the Thunder as better than a 50/50 proposition, especially if that deciding game is in OKC. But this discussion really only applies if you buy in to the “Pop is sacrificing games theory”, which I don’t. I do agree that there are usually a handful of games per year that this occurs, but for atleast 4-5 of the 6 losses this year, I think Pop and the Spurs gave it their best shot and just weren’t the better team (for atleast a night anyway).

  • ThatBigGuy

    I’m not worried about our 0-6 record against the other contenders. Those who have been fans for awhile know that Pop doesn’t really care about his win/loss record until the Rodeo Road Trip. The Spurs simply aren’t losing games they should be winning. This is great, because none of the other teams have any idea who the Spurs are this year, which is probably Pop’s intention all along.

    That being said, I would imagine Pop tightens up the rotation before the RRT, because January will be brutal (9 out of 14 games against probable playoff teams, plus a game each against Memphis and Minnesota). A losing record in January would be a cause for concern, not our current record.

  • Graham

    And again, we are CRUSHING the games we are supposed to win. We haven’t had a single loss to a team like (to use a relevant example given our fretting about the Thunder) Toronto all season. This obviously means nothing come playoffs, but it certainly serves us well in our hopes to get the 1 seed. So what if we lose 20 games to top flight teams? If we continue to handle business against the lower echelon, then that just means every embarrassing loss the other contenders have to those same teams is ground they surrender to us. I’ve said before that if we end up .500 against the top teams as a group but win 95% of games against everyone else, we will be in GREAT shape come playoff time.

  • LukeDawg

    And again, an admirable quality to be sure. But I think most fans would rather beat the good team and then slip up against the Raptors. Obviously in the win column it all looks the same, but what is ultimately the more damning trait: Playing your best against the best teams, while not getting up for the mediocre teams, or beating the teams you should, but not having the gear to get you over the top? I think that is mostly a rhetorical question and I am not saying the spurs don’t have that gear, I’m just saying we have not seen it yet, whereas we know the Thunder absolutely have it. So I agree with you on your great shape for “playoff time” plan but I definitely think you contradicted yourself. The Spurs will only play about 20 top flight games all season, so if they lose all 20 of those and still end up with a one seed, you honestly don’t think that would be cause for alarm? Now if they go .500 in those games against the contenders, that is something else in entirely, and they would absolutely be in great shape. But after an 0 and 6 start, they would have to finish 14-4 against the best teams in the league to get to your .500 mark and that seems like an awfully tall order doesn’t it?

  • LukeDawg

    And again, that is absolutely an admirable trait. But I think most fans, if given the choice, would much rather beat the contender and then the next night come out flat against the Raptors. Of course it is all technically the same in the win/loss column what trait is more valuable come playoff time: Playing the best against the best teams, but not always having the same intensity for the mediocre ones? Or always beating the teams you should, but not having the extra gear to get you over the top against the best teams? Now that is mostly a rhetorical question and I am definitely not saying the spurs do not have the extra gear. I am just saying that we have not seen it yet from the Spurs but we absolutely have from the Thunder. So I agree with your “great shape come playoff time plan” but I think you contradicted yourself. The spurs will only play about 20 games against the top flight teams in total. So you honestly think if they go 0-20 in those game and still get the one seed, that there wouldn’t be cause for any alarm? Now if they can find a way to go .500 in those games against the other contenders as you suggested, that is something different entirely and would absolutely put them in great shape for the playoffs. But that is an awfully tall order given the 0-6 start, meaning they would have to go 10-4 against the contenders the rest of the way, including road games in Miami, Indiana, OKC, and Portland. That is all to say they are not currently on pace for your what you would deem as good position come playoff time.

  • Graham

    Well I personally peg more than 20 against top fight teams. The 4 against the only good eastern conference teams, 4 vs Houston, then the games vs the Clippers, Blazers, Thunder definitely, and depending on how you feel the games against the Warriors, Grizzlies and Mavs would count.

    And I was actually trying to illustrate two scenarios. If we lost every game against elite competition but won every other game, we’d still end up with fantastic seeding. Ideally finishing .500 against those teams would be even better, and certainly still plausible.

    And who knows? We very well could finish with a nice swing against the upper echelon once we get everything dialed in on the patented spurs machine. Maybe a great RRT kickstarts it and we go 15 and 5 against the elite. We are so blatantly in tinker mode everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Our final analysis needs to hold off until we lock in our rotations.

  • spurzztop

    hey at least wearent the knicks or nets bahahaha

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