Morning Rehash: Them Metacarpal Blues

Get well soon. :( - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard breaks a hand, Derek Fisher remains healthy, Kevin Durant and Reggie Jackson are dragons, and your Basketball Gods are all dead.

Kawhi Leonard broke his hand, Derek Fisher is probably still at the AT&T Center hitting three-pointers, and your Basketball Gods are dead.

There. Let's get that out of the way up front.

Wednesday night's home loss to the Thunder was about as unfortunate a game as you can have in the drudges of mid-January. The Spurs fought valiantly in the absence of three of their top four defenders, but ultimately, they were felled by a combination of Kevin Durant's discovery of the last Dragon Ball and Reggie Jackson's possession of Chris Paul's soul.

The Spurs were able to get some decent contributions from Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw and even a monster game from Tony Parker, but they were simply unable to find a combination that worked in the absence of their two best wing defenders. Kawhi Leonard joined Danny Green on the injured list midway through the second quarter when he broke the fourth metacarpal in his shooting hand. The immediate consequences were obvious. The Spurs had nobody to slow down Kevin Durant, a point that was made painfully clear in the second half when Gregg Popovich assigned Cory Joseph with the task of guarding arguably the best player in the league. (Okay, the best player this season perhaps.) Joseph's effort was admirable, but short of asking Boris Diaw for a boost mid-play, there was only so much he could do.

Popovich did a little of everything for the Spurs. He squeezed as much as he could from unconventional lineups, earned a technical foul when it was apparent that the officials couldn't establish a flow for the game (both teams were upset throughout), and he kept Duncan's playing time under 35 minutes. There's only so much you can do when your roster is gutted and you're playing one of the best teams in the NBA. That the Spurs only lost by six points under these circumstances is something of a minor miracle.

This isn't to excuse away the loss completely or diminish a Thunder team dealing with their own major injury. Durant and company earned the win. The Spurs couldn't get any stops down the stretch, and any time you have to resort to a shooting contest against a team with Kevin Durant, you're probably walking away with a loss.

Still, it's hard to say what there was for either side to learn from this game. Should the Spurs and the Thunder meet in the Western Conference Finals - which I still contend is the likeliest scenario - the teams will look very different. The assessment that the Thunder have "figured out" the Spurs has some merit, but they haven't really played these Spurs in any high pressure scenarios. 2012 feels like ages ago, and both teams look different. Can you imagine a Spurs/Thunder playoff game this year where Duncan only hits 33 minutes? How about one where Marco Belinelli plays for 37? Yeah, me neither.

In the end, the Spurs lost a tough one, but the circumstances of the game really prevent anybody from drawing big conclusions. Kevin Durant is a basketball playing Avatar. Defensive wings are pretty important. Cory Joseph is not a Small Forward. These are not revelations. The next few weeks will be rough, and while they will tell us a lot about the team's resiliency, there won't be much there to tell us about the team's performance come playoffs. That's a difficult thing to digest for fans who were waiting for the Spurs to make the kind of statement they did this time last year, but there will be time to make statements later. For now, we wait. For adjustments to be made. For roles to be filled. For bones to heal.

Be sure to read Chris Itz's recap, if you haven't already.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

"We will sustain."

– Tim Duncan, on how the Spurs will handle their injury woes (Hat tip, Dan McCarney.)

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Derek Fisher continued his streak of bafflingly solid shooting against the Spurs, going 3 for 4 from the three-point line. Things got interesting late in the fourth when he and Patty got tangled in a scrum for a loose ball and had to be separated. One of the officials had an, um... unique idea for how best to prevent a fight: he mounted Derek Fisher. Refereeridesderekfisherpony
  • Popovich said Kawhi played a few possessions with that broken finger. I stubbed my toe on Saturday and almost didn't go to the park to play ball.
  • In a shocking turn of events, Matt Bonner has ended his New Balance ties, officially joining Adidas, as announced on Twitter. While he may have finally made the switch to a new shoe company, you never, ever forget your first love:Beor5nbceaezmwk
  • Who is this yokel sitting behind the Spurs bench covered in Miami Heat gear, and why did he pay money for those clothes and that seat?834895391
  • Boris Diaw was fantastic tonight. For a while, it looked like our enchanted, flippered elephant might take us to the promised land. Alas, it was not in the cards, but Diaw did finish with one of the more productive box scores on the team. He shot eight good shots and made five of them. He finished with a remarkable +13 in a game the Spurs lost by six. What more can you say? Boris Diaw is an enigma wrapped in a pillow fort.
  • Raise your hand if you pegged the young guys to be the ones missing games when the season started? Anybody? Bueller? What a weird season this is becoming.

GAME MVP

Parker

WILLIAM ANTHONY PARKER, JR.

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

STL

3PM/3PA

+/-

MIN

37

14/22

4

2

1

1/2

-2

27:18


This game sucked for Spurs fans in just about every way imaginable, but it was still nice to see Tony Parker have his first monster game in what feels like a year. The three turnovers to four assists wasn't ideal, but Parker's offensive brilliance, particularly in the second half, was the only thing that kept the Spurs within striking distance down the stretch. The jumpers were falling, and the acrobatic layups were in full effect, to the tune of a game-leading 37 points (on 22 shots). Aside from Boris Diaw's miraculous +13, Parker was the only Spurs who finished with a positive +/-. There's not much to glean from this game, but it's nice to know that Parker still has these kinds of games in the tank for later this season. The Spurs are definitely going to need some of them, too, as they push a depleted roster through a long road trip.

GAME LVP

3730-perkins-kendrick_large

KENDRICK LE'DALE PERKINS, SR.

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

STL

BLK

+/-

MIN

2

1/3

1

3

0

0

+2

27:18


Kevin Durant recently said he'd play with Perkins "until the wheels fall off." I'm assuming he was referring to Perkins' car because Perk's been sparking up bare rims down the court for a while now:

Kendrickperkinsmissedjumpersa

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 54: Thunder FG% for the game. The Spurs played most of the game without three of their four best defenders. This is not a coincidence.
  • 23.7: Number of points Reggie Jackson is averaging against the Spurs this season. He's scored 71 points in three games on 67 percent shooting. YEESH. (Hat tip, Royce Young.)
  • 7.5: Estimate of inches Kevin Durant has on Cory Joseph, who spent time guarding him in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. I'm not saying Kawhi would have "stopped" Durant - there's no stopping him right now, anyway - but Kawhi's defense is significant enough to force Durant into tougher shots. It also affords the rest of the Spurs the headspace to keep track of their respective men. One thing's for sure: there's no freakin' way Cory Joseph is spending one second guarding Lebron James on Sunday.
  • 7: Number of free throws the Spurs missed. They lost by six points. Duncan is 6 of 16 from the free throw line in his last three games. Neat. (No, it's not.) YGTMYFT.
  • 0: Small Forwards on the Spurs for at least the next six weeks. I know the Spurs SG/SF positions are essentially interchangeable in a lot of their lineups, but say goodbye to stretch four small ball for the foreseeable future.

BIRD IS THE WORD

THE GAME IN SONG

"Up in the city it's panic and toil / In every fiber and vein / All dressed up like kings in their robes of desire / The poets are going insane"

– from "The Ballad of the Broken Bones," by The Low Anthem

GOING FORWARD, THE SPURS NEED TO...

Put on their big boy pants. The next three games – all on the road – are against playoff teams. Atlanta knows our plays, Miami has Lebron, and Houston's had our number. Whoo boy. Still, it's January. If we can just get everybody back relatively soon without suffering another injury, that would be great.

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