The Margin: Oklahoma City Thunder 107, San Antonio Spurs 93

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I didn’t get to watch this game quite as closely as I’d liked to last night, so I’m going to go with The Margin format for today’s recap. For those not in the know, The Margin is one bullet point for every point in the difference in the score, as made famous by Rob Mahoney. The Thunder beat the Spurs by 14 points last night, so you get 14 bullet points.

  • Serge Ibaka was the star performer for the Thunder last night, scoring 25 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking three shots. Ibaka started out the game shooting something like 6-6 in the first quarter and didn’t slow down much from there, the majority of his early baskets coming from the midrange. It was eerily similar to his performance in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. According to Hoopdata, the Thunder shot 52.7% from 16-23 feet on Monday night, well over the 41.7% the Spurs are allowing on the season. Sometimes the shots fall.
  • With Russell Westbrook on him early, the Spurs used Tony Parker off the ball a lot in the first quarter. Parker ran Westbrook from corner to corner through as many screens as the Spurs could get in there. At the time it was effective, the Thunder defense seemed pretty amped to play the Spurs and did a lot of over-pursuing, which opened up some easy shots. As the game wore on and the adrenaline subsided, the OKC defense became a little more disciplined.
  • The return of Stephen Jackson to the lineup didn’t help on the rebounding as much as one would hope. Watching the game it was obvious why they missed him, there were several times where Tiago Splitter or one of the bigs would have to close out on a shooter and the other big was occupied with blocking out a man. Jack was aggressive in crashing the boards and helping out. On the night he had four boards. However, the Spurs still allowed 15 offensive rebounds to the Thunder, in part because starting big men Splitter and Tim Duncan combined for just eight rebounds, while the Thunder bigs combined for 21 (17, of course, by Ibaka).
  • With Westbrook and Kevin Durant combining to shoot 12-31 from the field, the Spurs missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on what you could deem a “meh” night from the Thunder’s two stars. But with Ibaka’s performance and Kevin Martin coming off the bench to score 20 points on 7-10 shooting, the Thunder kept themselves from getting in a first half hole as they waited for their stars to really assert themselves.
  • Besides limiting offensive rebounds, another area where the Spurs have struggled this season is in the turnover department. 17 against the Thunder doesn’t do much to change that trend.
  • The third quarter was really where this game got away from the Spurs. Oklahoma City ended the period on a 22-8 run that signaled the end of the evening for the Spurs starters, except…
  • The Spurs bench almost got them back in it. In the fourth quarter, down 13 points, the San Antonio reserves almost made a game of it. First DeJuan Blair got matched up with Durant out on the perimeter by mistake, and somehow picked Durant’s pocket. Nando De Colo picked up the loose ball and shielded Russell Westbrook well on the layup. On the next possession, James Anderson picked up an errant pass and raced ahead for a fastbreak dunk, cutting the Thunder lead to nine points. Unfortunately for the Spurs, they lost track of Kevin Martin on the perimeter and he sunk an open 3 to get the Thunder lead back to 12 and effectively kill of the game. As Bill Land said on the telecast, at that point it looked like the Spurs bench was getting tired and on cue they gave up the 3. I’m curious if they could’ve gotten one more stop whether Pop would’ve called the timeout to give his bench some rest and stayed with them, or gone back to the starters. I’m guessing he would’ve stayed with the bench, much like how he did against the Dallas Mavericks last year. It should also be noted that this run by the Spurs bench was coming against the Thunder starters, who were trying to put the game out of reach as quickly as possible.
  • Another reason why Pop probably would’ve stayed with the bench is because the Spurs play tonight in Denver against the Nuggets.
  • Another good night for Nando De Colo. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-9 shooting and six assists. He even had a dunk in the first half on a breakaway and scored in the low post. How his season unfolds is one of the things I’m most excited to watch over the next four months or so.
  • The Spurs starters had a -24.6 net rating on the night. Ugh.
  • Oklahoma City shot nine more free throws than the Spurs did. You would think that meant the Spurs committed far more fouls then the Thunder, but that’s not the case. OKC actually committed 21 fouls to the Spurs’ 19. The Thunder just happened to get a lot of their fouls out of the way early in the game.
  • 12 Spurs played at least 12 minutes on the night. Only eight Thunder players logged more than 11 minutes. OKC was in a playoff rotation on Monday night.
  • After starting out 11-2 on the road, the Spurs have lost three straight away from the AT&T Center. Luckily enough, they get a chance to stop that skid tonight against the Nuggets. Gary Neal played the most minutes on the team against the Thunder with just over 28, so the team should be in decent condition in Denver.
  • If I remember right, Bill Land said before the game that Kawhi Leonard should play tonight against the Nuggets. That should provide some fairly fresh legs, at least early on before fatigue sets in. Nonetheless, it will be good seeing him out there again.

Lineup data courtesy of NBA.com/Stats

 

  • DieHardSpur

    To put it simply: OKC got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. Ibaka had another career night, kmartin couldn’t miss. Not sure why Tiago didn’t come in in the 4th instead of Blair… We might have been able to pull it closer than 9. He is automatic on the roll, not sure why we can’t find him a dozen touches a game.

  • Len

    The rebounding differential is really concerning. I’m not sure how Pop plans on countering that if these 2 teams meet up in the playoffs. I will say that last nights game made me feel more willing to offer a sweet deal for Andy. I wonder if PATFO felt the same.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Something I have been trying to digest ever since he started raising his level of play some 15 games ago. But thats pop experimenting again. Lets go with what works. He and DeColo hit the floor in the 1st half together when they were down by 7 then by the time they left for substitution the thunder lead had evaporated and the spurs were up a few. Connect the dots everybody. I dont care who Tiago plays with he needs 30 min a game if you want to see this team move forward.

  • agutierrez

    I don’t think it was that OKC adjusted its overall defense, it was that Skiles switched Sefalosha unto Tony and, just like in last year’s playoffs, that threw our entire offense out of kilter. Tony has no problem with quick defenders but all kinds with long ones. OKC’s strategy is to harass Tony with Sefalosha so that we do not even get into it until 15 – 16 seconds have passed on the shot clock. We rely on lots of movement and that takes time. When we don’t have it, we rush shots. That’s a formula for failure and that’s what happened last night.

  • Tyler

    While reason for pause, I think you’ll see trend change once Jax and Leonard are healthy. We really do lose a lot of length w/o them. With a few exceptions, we’ve been trotting out 3 guard lineups since both went down. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  • Graham

    Perhaps he’s playing the Tiago card close to the vest (no sense showing the thunder that now so they have film on it) while trying to find optimal lineups right now. Makes sense, get this out of the way during the first half of the season, then turn on the burners in the second half once we get our optimal rotations in place. This road heavy schedule helps us now i think. Outside of the rodeo road trip we are due for a ton of home games after the all star break.

  • DieHardSpur

    Graham that would be a good strategy, but I doubt Pop would do it. He has placed more emphasis on seeding later in Tim’s career.

    Does anyone want to comment on the ridiculously difficult schedule we have had thus far compared to the other “contenders” in the West? If you look at the average winning percentage of the “last 10 games” of OKC and Clips, they are winning primarily at home, against sub 500 competition. I understand that they don’t make their schedules, and they are winning the games they are supposed to win, but damn. it seems like we have played more Back-to-Back situations than the Thunder and Clippers have played total away from their home.

    Say what you want, but I think Stern does this intentionally… How pissed must he be to see the Spurs consistently at the top of the standings..?

    I cant wait until we are all back healthy to help take some of the stress off Duncan. I am sure proud of the way he elevated his game to come out and take care of business when we needed the help. He is truly one of the best ever. And you never hear a work out of him complaining (ie. Kobe) throwing his teammates under the bus…

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    I think everyone overestimates Stern’s impact in scheduling. There’s a committee of people who arrange the schedule and they have to work with arenas (for availability reasons) and the networks. There’s a lot of factors in play when the schedules are created, none of them are David Stern saying “Let’s screw this team.”

  • Tyler

    The home/away differential aspect is one of the big reasons we should be optimistic. Throw in the fact we’ve had two (now 3 with Manu) of our top 7 hurt for the last few weeks…..we’re sitting pretty.

    Before the season, I would have said we’d be lucky to be a game or two over .500 in this given scenario.

  • Andrew G

    Who’s getting axed from the lineup with Kawhi’s return?

    Also, while I don’t think Stern has any kind of influence over the scheduling, I still don’t see how he can justify a fine of that magnitude if he had the decency to take one glimpse at our early season schedule.

  • Bruno

    Spurs were outrebounded after Pop throw the towel(4 minutes left in the 3rd)

  • Bruno

    Neal

  • Andrew G

    I was thinking Anderson or even DeJuan, Gary’s started too many games to be relegated at this point.

  • Andrew G

    Oh, I see, you interpreted starting lineup, sorry. I mean from the roster, I probably should’ve used the right word.

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