Four days after losing a crucial game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Oklahoma City Thunder took another loss, this time by a score of 103-99 against the Spurs in San Antonio.
The Thunder got off to a pretty decent start, going toe to toe with the Spurs throughout the first quarter. San Antonio led for the first four minutes of the game, but Oklahoma City was able to take a brief lead before the Spurs jumped back on top. The teams would battle back and forth before the Thunder would finish out the quarter on top 29-24.
Oklahoma City was able to find success in the first quarter thanks primarily to shooting a hot 5/7 from beyond the arc. Paul George broke out of his shooting slump as of late as he knocked down 2/3 from three to score eight points in the first, and Russell Westbrook added in seven points and four assists. The Thunder defense was also able to find some success in forcing six San Antonio turnovers.
The second quarter was a bit of a different tale as the Spurs were absolutely dominant through the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the period. San Antonio jumped out to a 49-39 lead before Oklahoma City was able to regain some control and get back in the game. Carmelo Anthony was finally able to knock down some shots from deep, making both of his three-point attempts after going 0/9 over the last two games.
Paul George was able to keep things going, and he finished the first half with a Thunder-high 15 points, but LaMarcus Aldridge kept the Spurs rolling with his 19 points on 8/11 from the field. By halftime, the Thunder was able to regain some ground, but the Spurs were still on top 59-56.
The Thunder came out in the third quarter playing with a high energy and a sense of urgency, but that didn’t necessarily translate to points on the board. Oklahoma City was able to keep up with San Antonio, but a number of mistakes early kept them from blowing the game open. After the Spurs took a five-point lead a little over four minutes into the second half, the Thunder went on an 10-0 run to take a 71-66 lead with four minutes left in the quarter.
Oklahoma City was able to hold the Spurs to 27% shooting in the third quarter, but even that didn’t keep San Antonio out of reach of the Thunder. With only twelve minutes left to play in the game, the Thunder held a slim 81-77 lead over the Spurs.
Oklahoma City had a rough start to the fourth quarter, shooting just 2/11 from the floor for the first six minutes, but even after all of that, they led 87-86. The Spurs would then go on a 9-0 run before Russell Westbrook was able to knock down a shot and stop the bleeding. Westbrook’s bucket sparked a 9-2 run by the Thunder to cut the deficit to just one with a little over a minute to go. Oklahoma City was unable to get back on top, however, and the Spurs finished off with the win to tie the season series with the Thunder at 2-2 and put Oklahoma City in a bad spot concerning the Western Conference standings.
3 Quick Thoughts
- No Excuse For Poor Decision-Making: The Thunder tallied 15 turnovers on the night, just a little over their season average, but the majority of them came off of terrible passes made out of bad decisions. The Spurs did a solid job at defending passing lanes, but Oklahoma City certainly helped them out by gifting San Antonio a number of loose balls. Not only were turnovers an issue, but Russell Westbrook, the league’s leading MVP and one of the most clutch players over the last two seasons, had potentially his worst fourth quarter of the entire season. Twice he air-balled deep threes which were absolutely unnecessary shots. Hopefully Westbrook and the team in general can have a short memory and turn things around to finish off the season strong.
- No Finish, No Win: The third quarter has typically been an issue for Oklahoma City this season, but tonight, the Thunder was able to outscore the Spurs 25-18 coming out of halftime, which gave Oklahoma City a four-point lead headed into the fourth quarter. The Thunder is fifth on the season in fourth quarter +/- with a +0.9, but tonight, the Spurs outscored them 26-18. A number of different issues contributed to the Thunder’s inability to finish, but the inability to knock down shots over a long period of time was the biggest one. Oklahoma City’s offense gets stagnant at times, and when that happens, someone has to have a clear head and decide to take control of the situation and just get a bucket.
- The Playoffs Just Got Even More Complicated: The loss tonight ties the Thunder-Spurs season series at 2-2, and drops Oklahoma City to fifth in the West, just a half game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that owns a 2-0 season series advantage over the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s final six games are no cakewalk, and it’s becoming more and more likely that they go into the first round without homecourt advantage.
Thank God It’s Thunder Basketball Friday
The Oklahoma City Thunder heads home to play the second-half of a back-to-back on Friday night against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are currently on the outside looking in concerning the Western Conference Playoffs, but they have a 2-1 advantage over the Thunder on the season. Tip-off is set for 7 PM CT and will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.
Be sure to check out this week’s episode of Thunder Things with the Thunder Guys.