Perhaps there is just something about the way that these two teams matchup that works out for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Its one thing to hold the Spurs to under 80 points and come back from a 17 point deficit at home in the Ford Center, but its quite another to go into San Antonio, on the road, in a hostile environment, and get a win. That's exactly what the Thunder were able to do tonight. Both teams shot incredibly well through the game and the Thunder finished with an impressive 49% shooting, and the Spurs weren't far behind, shooting 47% for the game. The terrific shooting was definitely what got the Thunder in the win column tonight.
The Thunder also lead most of the way on the boards, but the Spurs ended up finishing ahead in the rebounding department by just a couple of rebounds. For a while the Thunder looked as if they would run away with the win, and even had the hometown crowd boo'ing the Spurs for awhile before the Spurs mounted a comeback late in the third quarter. They also got a boost from the referees as Roger Mason took a 3 point shot at the buzzer and stuck out his leg to catch Kyle Weaver as he jumped past, contesting the shot. Weaver had the foul called on him, despite not even making contact, and Mason knocked down 3 shots at the line. That cut the lead to six points instead of 9, heading into the final quarter, and in my opinion gave the Spurs a huge boost down the stretch, but in the end the Thunder were able to hang on in that final minute to get the win.
If you wanna talk about great effort, all you had to do was watch the final 30 seconds of this game to see an incredible effort by the Thunder. Up by one point with about 20 seconds remaining Russell Westbrook drove the lane and dished the ball to Green for a layup that didn't go down and the Spurs got the ball for one final shot. They took possession with 14 seconds remaining, so they had plenty of time to set something up. The Spurs looked in Manu Ginobili's direction first, who was open for a jumpshot near the 3 point line, but Thabo Sefolosha disrupted what would have been a game winning shot attempt, so Ginobili took the dribble inside and attempted a leaping pass that Thabo swatted away. Ginobili ran toward the baseline to save the ball and made a quick pass to Duncan who passed the ball to Michael Finley who had to immediately take a shot as the buzzer went off. The ball clanked off the rim, and the Thunder got the win. This Thunder defense was all over the Spurs and in the end, they barely even got a shot up. When you go back and look at it, the Thunder looked like the seasoned veterans and the Spurs looked like a bunch of rookies who didn't know what to do in the final seconds. When the buzzer went off I threw my hands up in the air like we had just won a playoff game.
Its that type of intensity and effort that makes it impossible to dislike this team. Sure they have nothing to play for, and in the end, winning games worsens their lottery chances, but you can't tell any of these guys that winning games like this doesn't matter. After the game Kevin Durant commented that it was like a playoff atmosphere out there tonight, and I feel the same way. For this to feel like a playoff game and have this team respond the way they did, you have to be happy if you are a Thunder fan. It was the teams first road victory against a team with a .500 or better record. Nice to get that monkey off our backs finally.
Kevin Durant finished with 31 points to mark the first time he's crossed that 30 point barrier since coming back from his ankle injury. He added 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal as well. A trio of Thunder players tied for second on the team in scoring with 16 points, those players were Green, Westbrook, and Krstic. Westbrook also had 10 assists and just 2 turnovers tonight. That's the kind of performance that makes you think that maybe, just maybe, he can be the POINT GUARD of the future for this team. Perhaps the signing of a one Shaun Livingston was a motivating factor.
This was a big win for this team, and a huge confidence booster after the way they played last week against the Lakers, Raptors, and then in the 4th quarter against the Celtics in 3 consecutive losses. They'll return home on Friday night to take on the Blazers. Big Effort, Big Win, Exciting finish, what more could a Thunderfan ask for?
|Final - 3.31.2009||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||29||25||27||15||96|
|San Antonio Spurs||32||16||27||20||95|