The Oklahoma City Thunder suffered their worst margin of defeat since 2009 tonight, as they lost to the San Antonio Spurs 130-91. With the Thunder missing Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, and Andre Roberson for the second straight game, they didn't exactly have their defensive teeth intact. It was only a night after OKC had given up 117 points to the Lakers, so it's no surprise that the Thunder couldn't handle the defending champions.
Nevertheless, the Thunder clearly lost this game because they made consistently bad decisions all game long. A lot of this blame goes to Russell Westbrook, since he makes so many decisions on both sides of the ball. But I'm going to refrain from trying to pinpoint one player tonight, because the poor play was systemic. The stats do a terrible job of reflecting this, though. Through three quarters, by which time the game was effectively over, the Thunder had shot 42%. In fact, the Thunder were even leading the offensive rebounding battle, and only had one more turnover than the Spurs.
So instead of taking the usual statistical route, I've snapped a picture of 10 of the Thunder's worst mistakes from last night. Prepare yourself....
Anyway, mistakes aren't entirely what killed the Thunder. Mismatches were a real problem for OKC all game, on both ends. Offensively, Russell Westbrook was getting crossmatched with a shooting guard whenever D.J. Augustin was on the floor, and that was a real problem when Westbrook tried to go paint. Furthermore, Perry Jones seemed really keen to use his size advantage against Marco Bellinelli. But PJIII failed to produce on four separate occasions in ISOs, and it really stalled OKC's offense.
Defensively, the Thunder allowed the Spurs to shoot 7 of 8 in the paint during the first quarter. San Antonio was constantly using their bigs in the high post, and it was keeping Adams and Kanter away from the rim. As a result, OKC started switching during the second quarter in an effort to protect the rim. The strategy worked somewhat, as the Spurs only shot 4 of 9 from the paint in the second. But San Antonio would shoot a blazing 7 of 9 from outside the paint, simply because they were able to draw favorable matchups and work the break. The third quarter was pretty much the same story, with San Antonio's shooting outside the paint succeeding more than their shooting inside the paint.
Simply put, Coach Brooks was damned if he switched, and damned if he didn't switch. Maybe a zone?
- Russell Westbrook started off this game 3 of 3 from the field, and had two assists. Westbrook was posting up Parker and seemed to be on track for another great game. But Russ quickly began forcing the issue, running directly into Parker in an attempt to draw fouls. Westbrook also went to his mid-range game a bit when Duncan sagged off on screens, and the shot just wasn't there.
- Enes Kanter and Steven Adams looked like statues when they tried to meet Tony Parker around screens. Never let TP shoot!
- Tim Duncan hit a three tonight. It was his second of the season, and it came during a huge third quarter run.
- Russell Westbrook broke his mask in frustration tonight. If OKC wins out for the rest of the season, maybe we can say he broke the curse of the mask!?
- Dion Waiters was who we needed him to be tonight. He hit at least one catch and shoot three, was active in the paint, and great at nailing mid-range shots when given space. Dion's decision making still needs polish though, as he dribbled into a couple of contested shots and obvious traps.
- Anthony Morrow and Mitch McGary probably looked like the two biggest defensive sieves out there tonight. Both were destroyed by face-up plays, and McGary was caught out of position more than once. The +/- doesn't support that, but I saw what I saw!
- Steve Novak hit a three and didn't look atrocious. He made the right decisions on D but just couldn't affect much positively because the Spurs pass out of traps so well.
Thunder Wonder: Dion Waiters, because why not
Thunder Down Under: Enes Kanter, who would have probably looked better next to Collison or Ibaka
Thunder Blunder: Russell Westbrook, because I had to
Thunder Plunderer: Tony Parker, whose off-ball movement will never cease to amaze me
Next Game: At the Utah Jazz, Saturday, March 28th, 8 PM Central Standard Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!