What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
At least we tried. I know it sounds cliche, but after getting to demoralized during the early second quarter, there are teams that would have just mailed it in tonight and lived to fight another day. Scott Brooks managed to make a great coaching decision on the fly, playing small. Kevin Durant was in at Power Forward, and the quicker Royal Ivey and Lazar Hayward saw time. Once that adjustment was made, the Thunder were on the fast track to getting back in the game..
What was tonight's turning point?
After a long game of back and forth in the late 4th, the Spurs finally managed to pull away at the beginning of the final minute, with Green sneaking in for a Slam Dunk, and Matt Bonner blocking an attempted Westbrook layup. At that point, the Spurs were up by 6 with possession, and had the game well in hand.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder lost?
Poor lineup management early on. I don't know what Daequan Cook did early on to warrant his benching tonight, but I would have much rather had him in the game than Royal Ivey when the Thunder were getting trampled in the early 2nd. Ivey can hit threes like cook can, but Cook is also good at recognizing when a shot closer to the basket would be more wise. He's also a better rebounder, and more involved with the offense in general. So when Mohammed, Collison, Harden, Ivey, and Jackson were out ther, it was basically the James Harden turnover show. There were next to no options out there, and no one to set anything up.
You also have to give equal credit to the terrific play of Danny Green and Tony Parker in the final minutes. Parker was unstoppable as always, finding the exact right spot on the floor from which to score. And when the Thunder covered him, Green was always available on the perimeter or cutting the lane for an easy layup. The slower Thunder defenders didn't know what hit them.
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
The Spurs had 49 Rebounds tonight, the Thunder had 37. I know that the Thunder played small, but they were getting murdered on the boards even when their starters were out there. Whenever the Thunder managed to get an offensive board, it worked wonders. And for most of the game, they were equal to or better than the Spurs in rebounding. But during the few moments the Thunder got killed on the boards, their offense grind to a halt. No fast-breaks were possible, the Spurs got second chances, and turnovers were committed.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
The loss doesn't exactly spell doom, as the Thunder are still three games ahead of the Spurs in the Western Conference Standings. But the two teams have no more meetings scheduled for the regular season, and the Spurs hold the head-to-head advantage. Should current trends continue, that could be a huge factor heading into the final weeks of the season when playoff seeds are at stake.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, for igniting the offense when it needed him the most.
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, for 12 Points, 12 Rebounds, and 12 Blocks.
Thunder Blunder: Kendrick Perkins, for fouling out way too easily.
Thunder Plunderer: Blair, Parker, Green. The first ever tri-Plunderer award. Well deserved by all three.
Next Game: Versus the Portland Trail Blazers, Sunday, March 18th, 8:30 PM Central Standard Time