San Antonio Spurs 101, Oklahoma City Thunder 74: That team defense looked sort of familiar
I get the impression that Kevin Durant has the capability to score 80 points all by his lonesome, sort of like Kobe Bryant a few seasons ago. So for the San Antonio Spurs hold Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder under 80 points in a 101-74 win for the Spurs, well, that’s a big deal.
For most of the night, San Antonio’s defense of old ran the show. The Spurs chased the Thunder shooters off the 3-point line and stopped them before OKC’s men got to the basket, giving them shots in that middle ground known as inefficiency.
For the most part, you won’t see a Spur defender square up to the man he’sÂ guardingÂ on the perimeter. Usually, they shade more to one side of the other, inviting the man they’re defending to put the ball on the floor instead of take a 3-point shot.
From there, the Spur defender guides his man into the help defense and forces the opponent to either shoot the ball from the mid-range, a shot Gregg Popovich can live with, or get rid of the ball.
It takes a lot of trust in your teammates to allow yourself to give the appearance of being beat off the dribble. But against Oklahoma City on Saturday night, the Spurs were full of trust. The result was under 33% shooting for the Thunder and only 1-7 from the 3-point line. It was a bit of a defensive masterpiece.
Here some other assorted bullet points from San Antonio’s 29th win of the season:
- The SpursÂ have run their pet alley-oop play for Richard Jefferson a number of times this season, but it seems like over the last two weeks they’ve run it at least once per game and gotten points. It seems like it usually comes in the first or second quarter, too.
- Gary Neal didn’t check into the game against Oklahoma City for the first time until there were just four seconds remaining in the first quarter. Ime Udoka actually entered the game before Neal, which I thought was interesting.
- Tiago Splitter celebrated his 26th birthday with six points and six rebounds in about 20 minutes of action against OKC, though he only shot 2-7 from the floor. Also, he still hasn’t figured out the whole defensive 3-seconds in the lane rule.
- Some day, some day, George Hill will hit the roll man when he’s running the pick-and-roll. And when he does, all the land will rejoice and throw parties in his honor.
- There were a possible 396 fourth quarter minutes that Tim Duncan could have played this season. I’m curious how many of those minutes he has actually played. My guess is about a third of them. I’d love to see a pie chart displaying the percentage of those minutes Duncan has played. Duncan played 27 minutes against the Thunder and put up 21 points on 10-15 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds. He’s still got it. [Update: I’ve been informed that Duncan has played in 140 of a possible 396 fourth quarter minutes through 33 games this season.]