The Thunder finally created a crack in the Spurs' seemingly unstoppable offensive attack and narrowed their series deficit to 2-1. The name of Game 3 was defense, and every single player committed to pursuing it, even at the cost of their own offense. While it has been frustrating at times to see OKC sometimes sleepwalk through games on the defensive end, it is encouraging to see how they are learning on the fly that their defense can enable them to beat just about anybody.
The grades I assign might look a bit high given the players' statistical production, but in Game 3, statistics were the least relevant part of the Thunder's win. They instituted a defensive game plan to deal with the Spurs' attack, and they executed it aggressively and beautifully. If even one guy was not on the same page, we would have seen numerous breakdowns occur throughout the night. For the most part, those breakdowns did not happen.
(Zorgon has been doing a lot of traveling as of late and for all I know, right now he's in a space capsule orbiting the moon. Hopefully he'll be back soon to offer up his own player grades)
19 points on 7-16 shooting, 6 REB, 1 AST, 6 ST, 1 BL, 0 TO
22 points on 8-17 shooting, 6 REB, 5 AST, 1 ST, 3 TO
||Kevin Durant was the high scorer on the night with his 22, and his offense was just enough to keep things running while the team defense did the dirty work. For me, his imprint on Game 3 was his one-handed dunk over Tim Duncan, and the ever-shifting help defense he provided as the team worked hard to keep Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili out of the lane. His offense could have theoretically been better, but because of his defensive focus it didn't need to be.|
10 points on 5-15 shooting, 7 REB, 9 AST, 4 ST, 2 BL, 2 TO
Russell Westbrook is going to be the kind of player who can never please all the people all of the time, but thankfully he is committed to working hard for his teammates when they need him the most. Despite a lackluster shooting performance, Westbrook was otherwise masterful on both ends of the court. He tallied his high assist mark for the series and did a much better job being patient against the Spurs defense, passing up a number of 'open' shots so that he could make the extra pass and find the better shot. Most importantly, Westbrook was locked up on Ginobili for much of the night, and Westbrook did the same thing to Ginobili that he did to Jason Terry in round 1. In short, he made Ginobili disappear (Manu managed only 8 points on 1-5 shooting) and still had energy to make defensive plays like this.
More grades after the jump.
15 points on 5-10 shooting, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO
14 points on 5-9 shooting, 3 REB, 1 AST, 2 ST, 3 BL, 0 TO
5 points on 2-7 shooting, 3 REB, 4 AST, 0 TO
4 points, 8 REB, 3 BL, 1 TO
6 points on 3-3 shooting, 4 REB, 1 ST, 0 TO
The Rest of the Thunder Bench