Skip to content

Spurs sure look like contenders in 12-point win over Thunder

Mar 12, 2013, 12:21 AM EDT

Tim Duncan Getty Images

There are two, slightly contradictory take aways from this game:

1) There are a lot of people that watched the Spurs look great in the regular season the last couple years but then look very beatable in the playoffs who think this Spurs team is like those. But there is a key difference — this Spurs team is a top three defensive team in the NBA. They are allowing 99.7 points per 100 possessions coming into this game (third best in the NBA, last season they were 11th).

Monday night the Spurs held a Thunder team averaging 107.1 points per 100 possessions to 99 per 100.

2) Don’t read too far into this one game as a playoff preview. This was the Thunder’s fourth game in five nights and it showed when Russell Westbrook is settling for jumpers and shoots 11-of-27 from the field. It shows when the Thunder have to play Derek Fisher 12 minutes (the more you see of him, the worse news it is for OKC). The Spurs bench was much fresher and better. And by the way, the Spurs were without Tony Parker.

The result of all this was a comfortable 105-93 Spurs win over the defending Western Conference champs.

The only message — don’t assume the Thunder will be facing the Heat in the NBA finals just yet. The Spurs are not young but they will not go quietly into that good night. Manu Ginobili still rages against the dying of the light.

Early on this looked like it might be very different. The Thunder went on 16-2 run midway through the first quarter to go up by 13. The Spurs were the ones that didn’t look crisp, giving too much space on defense, not rotating with energy and not hitting the glass (OKC opened on a 12-2 rebounding edge). It was 32-22 Thunder after one quarter.

But the Spurs bench was changing the energy of the game — Stephen Jackson and Manu Ginobili started making plays. Kawhi Leonard started knocking down jumpers (he had 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the second quarter. The Spurs went on an 11-0 run to tie the game, Gary Neal got in got in the act with a couple shots and suddenly the Spurs had won the second quarter 35-18.

The Thunder were settling for jumpers while the Spurs were getting the ball inside to Tiago Splitter — he shot 9-of-11 on the night for 21 points to go with his 10 rebounds.

Still, this was a three point game with 2:20 left in the third quarter because Westbrook found his touch and scored 13 in the quarter.

Then the benches came back in. And it was all Spurs. Boris Diaw knocked down a corner three. Manu Ginobili drove the lane for a lay-up bucket then stepped back off a pick and knocked down a three.

The Thunder turned the ball over on 20 percent of their possessions and didn’t close out well on shooters all night (particularly the corner three). Do that and the Spurs are too good and too disciplined — they will make you pay.

What was disturbing mostly for Thunder fans was they just didn’t have a lot of fight off their bench. San Antonio did a good job with their length of making it hard for Kevin Durant — he still had 26 points on 13 shots — but not Westbrook or anyone else could pick up the slack.

Danny Green added 16 and Leonard had 17 for the Spurs, who in their very Spurs way had six guys in double figures. No Tony Parker, no problem, everybody steps up. The Spurs have beaten the Thunder eight of the last nine in San Antonio, and with this win the Spurs are a full two games up on the Thunder in the race for the top spot in the West.

And that is another reason to consider the Spurs a serious threat to the Thunder when the playoffs start in a few weeks.

Latest Posts
  1. Lakers sign Wayne Ellington, who played best for Byron Scott

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers

    Ellington, who played for Scott with Cavaliers, received partially guaranteed contract

  2. Blake Griffin understands that Los Angeles is still a Lakers’ town

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin AP

    It’s not going to change anytime soon, either.

  3. Report: Jazz to work out John Stockton’s son

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:44 PM EDT

    WCC Basketball Tournament - Championship - Brigham Young v Gonzaga Getty Images

    David Stockton, an undrafted free agent out of Gonzaga, also worked out for Thunder

  4. Bruce Bowen says blame for James Harden’s defense falls on McHale, Rockets

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    The Rockets’ defensive system is not the problem with James Harden.

  5. Jazz sign Dahntay Jones

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Jones previously played for the Grizzlies, Kings, Nuggets, Pacers, Mavericks and Hawks

  6. Report: Darko Milicic leaving basketball, taking up kickboxing

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwovles 2010 NBA Europe LIve Minnesota Timberwovles 2010 NBA Europe LIve

    Former Pistons No. 2 draft pick putting some distance between himself and basketball

  7. Caldwell Jones dies at 64

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    Portland Trailblazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Portland Trailblazers vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Jones – who played for the 76ers, Rockets, Bulls (during Michael Jordan’s rookie season), Trail Blazers and Spurs – helped shape Tim Duncan’s career

  8. Tyson Chandler: ‘I’m going to make’ Mavericks defend

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    Tyson Chandler, Ricky Rubio Tyson Chandler, Ricky Rubio

    Chandler: ‘We are going to be a great defensive team’

  9. NBA to review domestic violence policies in wake of NFL’s ugliness. It shouldn’t have taken that.

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    There were multiple NBA players arrested on domestic abuse charges last year. The spotlight on those cases will be different now.

  10. Nuggets sign forward Marcus Williams

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

    Arizona Wildcats v North Carolina Tar Heels Getty Images

    This is the Marcus Williams who played at Arizona, not Connecticut

  11. Cavaliers lift ban on fan who ran onto court with LeBron James shirt

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

    A Cleveland Cavaliers fan interrupts play during their NBA basketball game against Miami Heat in Cleveland Reuters

    James Blair can watch LeBron in person in Cleveland again

  12. Blake Griffin said he knew Donald Sterling was racist, wasn’t really surprised by tape

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin GQ

    “The first thing I ever Googled about the man, the first thing that popped up was “racist.” So I was aware. I hate to say this, and it might sound ignorant, but I wasn’t surprised that all this came up.”—Blake Griffin on Donald Sterling

  13. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Chicago Bulls

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards - NBA Global Games Rio 2013 Getty Images

    A healthy D Rose could have the Bulls contending for a title.

  14. Miami to stick with small ball, including Danny Granger getting time at the four

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Two Getty Images

    LeBron is gone but Miami is still playing small, pressuring the ball.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Rondo (2943)
  2. E. Bledsoe (2861)
  3. K. Bryant (2458)
  4. L. James (2394)
  5. D. Rose (2066)
  1. R. Allen (1943)
  2. N. Young (1805)
  3. J. Hickson (1640)
  4. K. Irving (1638)
  5. B. Jennings (1637)