El Conclusion: Spurs fall to Thunder, win streak is kaput

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San Antonio Spurs 94 FinalRecap | Box Score 106 Oklahoma City Thunder
Tim Duncan, PF 28 MIN | 5-15 FG | 7-8 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -9

Did a good job getting to the line, but boy does Oklahoma City’s front line give him fits. Serge Ibaka makes it hard for him to get clean looks and Kendrick Perkins is so big, Duncan struggles to get good position against him. That being said, he still had 17 and 8 and it probably would’ve been more had a couple of calls gone his way.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 29 MIN | 8-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | 0

Two of the three first half fouls he picked up were pretty dumb. It forced Coach Pop to sit him at the start of the third quarter, which is when Oklahoma City went on their run. Other than that he was great and did an amazing job forcing Kevin Durant into some tough looks in the first half.

Tiago Splitter, C 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Two teams Splitter has the toughest time with is Oklahoma City and Miami, which is unfortunate but should not diminish his overall value to the Spurs. The second half started with Splitter on the bench and Diaw in the starting line up. Maybe that should be the plan from now on because he’s much better suited to tangle with the Steven Adams/Nick Collison duo.

Tony Parker, PG 26 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -4

Probably a little tired from playing close to 30 minutes the night before, but he wasn’t awesome for the most part. Like almost every other Spur, he seemed bothered by Ibaka in the middle.

Danny Green, SG 36 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -5

Looked pretty confident shooting, even though Oklahoma City was doing their best to run him off the 3-point line. It’s not a shot I look forward to seeing, but his one dribble pull up looks a lot better than it used to.

Boris Diaw, PF 25 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | -16

A lot of the Spurs turnovers came from Oklahoma City being aggressive in the passing lanes and the Spurs overpassing. Diaw was definitely the main culprit of this. His four turnovers came from a lack of assertiveness. There were several occasions where you just wanted him to look for his own shot instead of making the extra pass.

Damion James, SF 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2

Call this is a “welcome to the team” B.

Jeff Ayres, C 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1

Eh, it’ll be interesting to see if he can produce against Oklahoma City’s second unit, but he’s a little too small to be effective against Ibaka and Perkins.

Patty Mills, PG 24 MIN | 8-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -11

The lone A+ of the night. Keep shooting, Patty. There’s definitely going to be a game or two where that aggression is needed.

Cory Joseph, PG 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2

Curious if we see CoJo get playoff minutes to try to check Russell Westbrook if these teams meet in the postseason.

Marco Belinelli, SG 30 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | -16

Shot wasn’t there for most of the game and he had four turnovers. Unclear if this had to do with OKC’s defense or the fact that he was tired from playing five games in seven nights.

Gregg Popovich

I don’t think he cares that much about the outcome, just that outside of the third quarter, the Spurs were even with the Thunder. Plus playing a team that’s locked in on defense gives them some tape on what they can work on.

Three Things We Saw

  1. This game shows how important Danny Green’s defense is. If he can’t stay in front of Russell Westbrook, the Spurs are toast. Kawhi Leonard can’t slide over on him if Durant’s in.
  2. Trying not to take too much away from this game because of the crazy schedule the Spurs had just gone through and the fact that there was no Manu Ginobili, whose shot creation was sorely missed. Make no mistake, this team presents the biggest problem for San Antonio, but that doesn’t mean the Spurs can’t win a series against the Thunder.
  3. Tonight we saw a decent amount of a Tony Parker-Patty Mills backcourt. I haven’t seen the plus minus during their shared time yet, but it was an interesting countermove to the Westbrook-Reggie Jackson combo.
  • lvmainman

    Pop tanked the game. On what possible planet is it permissible to bench Kawhi Leonard to start the 3rd quarter of a REGULAR SEASON GAME! Unless the goal is to lose?

    Did you hear that double speak by Pop after the game, how he left Leonard in the game at the end to guard Durant. If Kawhi would have fouled out, so what? Is Pop not smart enough to use the game as a teaching tool for Kawhi to play with 3 fouls to start a 2nd half? There was NO WAY Durant was going to continue his 25 pt streak with Kawhi guarding him for the whole game. Was that’s Pop’s main goal, to see Durant get his 25?

    The Spurs were 19-0 since Kawhi came back from his injury. The one night Pop decides Kawhi shouldn’t play, the Spurs lose. Way to go Pop.

  • jhk

    They lost in LARGE part because Tony got obliterated by Russy. He should have listened to Pop & stayed at home (along w/ Boris) but his ego wouldn’t allow him to miss a nationally televised game..

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  • Dapimp Ofdayear

    In Splitter’s “grade box” it stated that his ongoing struggles against the Heat and Thunder shouldn’t be held against him. I beg to differ. If the goal is to simply win 60 games, then Splitter is just fine. If the goal is to go through OKC and/or Miami to capture an NBA title however, then Splitter is a huge liability. I’m sorry for all those here who like him, but he simply plays too small, too passive, and too unexplosive in the paint. His lack of lift has him trying all kind of little flips and trick shots around the rim when sometimes the situation calls for him to go up with every bit of strength and force he can muster. If he gets blocked here and there (he will) then so be it. Inflict some punishment, draw
    some fouls, and knock down some free throws for chrissakes.

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

    If that’s your case for not playing him, is Diaw your preferred option? Because Diaw plays exactly the same way in the paint on offense, with maybe a little more craft.

  • camnpat

    Off topic- The only reason I can never support the Thunder as a fellow small market team with some Spur traits: their cockiness and vain starting with Westbrook. Durant may be somewhat Duncan-esque in his demeanor, but the team seems to follow more Westbrook in terms of behavior.

    There is being passionate about your team and your town, and then there is being an a$$-you-know-what just because you can dunk. Even older guys like Fisher are like this.

    The Thunder may be skilled, but mature they are not.

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  • camnpat

    Is Parker tired, injured, burnt out, or all of the above? At this stage it probably would be a good idea to pull him out of rotation for the remaining regular games, go back to the Joseph- Mills-Manu combo at point like was done during the Rodeo Trip, get Joseph more playing time to get him even more confident on his shot and play making (which was greatly improving during the injury part of the season) since he will be needed some in the playoffs, and get Parker some energy back in the process.

  • colt

    agree 100%, i don’t think he really has legs fully underneath him yet. has played a lot of basketball the past two in a half years with seemingly no rest.

  • Filemon

    As a spurs follower I’m starting to dislike this attitude of “yeah the result doesn’t matter”, “we don’t really care about seeding”. I wish we had a Joakim Noah on the team saying that they want to win no matter what. Whats that about the seeding, how can pop say he doesn’t care? Its not about status quo, its about a concrete advantage come the playoffs. It would help a lot against OKC in a potential series. I just expect that what they say to the media and what they talk in the locker room is different.

    This doesn’t mean we can’t beat OKC, but on the other hand, there is no actual evidence of that we can beat them. We lost the 4 games, in different situations of schedule and overall rhythm of the teams. We had a good streak, playing good basketball and winning by 10, and last night we lost by 10. I would like to read a good reason why should i believe that we can beat them. Other than waiting for Westbrook to break down…

    I feel there is a very soft and coward attitude of some fans thinking that the strategy is simply keep it under the radar, low minutes, no injuries, and lets wait to see who gets injured from other teams, so we can cruise the playoffs.

    I want someone to stand out and say the team wants a series against OKC, to beat them, a payback from 2012 conference finals. But we know the spurs, diplomatic, they we’ll say they just want to keep playing, win against whoever. I wish there was a more explicit competitive spirit in the team.

  • Dapimp Ofdayear

    I never said not play him, as I understand his defense is actually his calling card for this squad. But on offense in the paint, he just gets swallowed up against any kind of height or athleticism. I know you’ve gotta dance with the one who brung ya, but it would be nice if he just attacked the basket with force sometimes, like he did against LeBron. True, LeBron stuffed him epically, but he would win his fair share of those battles either flushing it home or drawing fouls.

  • Caui sounds better than kawhi

    Competitive spirit? This team lost in THE WORST POSSIBLE WAY on the FINALS and got back even BETTER. Last night they lost and were watching film 10 minutes after the game. Are you kidding?
    San Antonio doesn’t have the same athletic talent as the Thunder or the Heat. They depend on ball movement and team D. They need to be PERFECT to win.
    In 2012 they lost because they stopped moving the ball and didn’t have enough legs on D. Last year, that wasn’t the case… and i’m pretty sure Miami was better than the 2012 Thunder.
    What you’re saying basically goes against everything the Spurs stand for. Is like saying that you want Garnett over Duncan…

    PS: “concrete advantage” did us wonder against the Grizzlies in 09…

  • Jimbo

    Good post, I’ll third that. It is absolutely critical that TP is fresh going into the playoffs. He’s about to turn 32, has a ton of miles on him, and is counted out to be the team’s driving force on offense in the playoffs. Not to mention he’ll be seeing longer, more physical defenders for extended times (like Sefolosha and James).

  • neverthehero

    I like this attitude.

  • Dapimp Ofdayear

    The Spurs need home court against OKC. The way the Thunder feeds off its home crowd whips its defense and transition game into a frenzy, just like the Heat. The Spurs, as good as they are, simply don’t have the horses when OKC kicks that hyper athletic pressure defensive into full gear, and raucous home crowds fuel that frenzied defense. Belinelli got his first real taste of it last night, and it completely threw him off his game. Same for Parker, Duncan, and Splitter. By contrast, Danny Green, Kawhi, and Patty did quite well, so that’s a positive.

  • sdf

    Pop tried but Tony is an attention whore (at least amongst the Spurs) & wants to been seen as a leader (which he isn’t). He needs to swallow his ego & sit his ass down. Cory should have been getting reps checking Reggie Jackson b/c Patty/Manu/Tony can’t stay with him.

  • dsfs

    The Spurs had home court advantage in 2012 but OKC still came out victorious. If the Spurs don’t match OKC’s intensity they will lose if they played all 7 games at the Alamo.

  • Dapimp Ofdayear

    OKC had Harden back then. They don’t win that series without Harden playing like he did.

  • td4life

    You may not like Westbrook, but at least they don’t have Harden instead. I hate Harden’s brutally gimmicky game, and can’t stand the guy (even if he comes across as relatively “mature”).
    Regarding demeanor: Durant has more of that killer instinct than Duncan. He’s like a TD-MJ hybrid in some ways. Not saying Big Tim doesn’t have a killer instinct, just that it’s not dailed all the way up to eleven like some guys are. Manu has it the most of all the Spurs, and Patty’s DNA reads “cold sniper”.
    The key to beating OKC is quick, confident shot-making, and dunks at the rim when we get the ball near the basket. Ibaka, in particular, changes too many shots. Pop needs to adjust to the Thunder and prep the guys for firing up shots quickly, looking to pass less. There are rarely great shots against this team, so good shots will have to do and the Spurs need to deeply own this fact. Patty, Manu, Boris, Green, and Marco are the guys that need to develop an itchy trigger finger against this level of athleticism. If Tim and Tony get their confidence from mid-range from an all-time high then that’s a huge boon too. The green light should not be optional, it should be a MANDATE!

  • td4lfie

    “In 2012 they lost because they stopped moving the ball and didn’t have enough legs on D. Last year, that wasn’t the case… and i’m pretty sure Miami was better than the 2012 Thunder.”
    I also believe the Spurs would have beaten a healthy OKC last year. But this year is not last year, KD and Ibaka are so much better, and so is Reggie Jackson. We can’t beat them by passing, passing, passing like we can almost everybody else. Too much quickness and length results in too many turnovers. We need more confidence in our shooting, and take those shots quickly.

  • k191

    Last night’s game was even except for 5 minutes in the 3rd. I’m not ready to assume the playoff series will be like that, Parker plays better with 1 or 2 days rest (which is the norm for playoffs).
    I agree with td4′s recommendations, but –
    Ibaka’s improvement is balanced by the improvement at the perimeter with Bellinelli, and at the rim with Diaw.
    2012 Thunder won because Harden was their 3rd. 2013 Thunder lost because Westbrook proved to be fragile (at least, too fragile for Westbrook’s aggressive style). In 2014, I suspect Westbrook will either work too hard and get hurt, or get limited minutes and make less difference.

  • fkj74

    I think we should let Westbrook dominate the ball and just keep gunning, play deny D on Durant and never leave Fisher. On offense take our time and not commit live ball turnovers. If we meet in the WCF I say Spurs in 6. Go Spurs!

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