What difference a day makes.
The San Antonio Spurs bounced back from a disappointing and inconsistent showing against the Dallas Mavericks to put on what could arguably be their most complete game of the season. From start to finish, these Spurs were electric. From starter to last man off the bench, a great night (though, come on Reggie Williams...).
The Spurs opened up the game shooting 14-for-22, but for at least 12 minutes, it looked to be a slugfest. Tony Parker's excellent 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting and 2 steals (his second consecutive 2-steal opening quarter) was matched in box score by Russel Westbrook's 14 points. The supporting cast for the Thunder was effectively Enes Kanter, while the Spurs had great work from Leonard, Green, and, refreshingly, Boris Diaw.
Diaw's 8 points, mainly by feasting on rookie Mitch McGary in the paint, were a bit negated by the fact that Westbrook went into hyperdrive with him at the 5 position and no true rim protector on the court. For the final few minutes, a beautifully unexpected Diaw/Westbrook duel played out. The Spurs ended up leading 32-28.
The second quarter was where the Spurs truly came alive, outscoring the the Thunder 39-22. Tim Duncan scored 9 points, Kawhi had 8, and Belinelli had 6. There was a sequence around the midpoint of the quarter that consisted of a Marco 3, followed by a rebound and fastbreak that ended with a Danny Green full-speed putback slam, then a Marco pump fake/sidestep reset for a three pointer to put the Spurs up 49-37. All part of a 12-0 run over the course of about 80 seconds, and the writing was on the wall.
After a frenetic run to end the 1st half was capped by an adjective-laden Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beating, pump-faking, jab-stepping, corner 3, this game looked to be iced. The Spurs led 71-50.
But the Spurs didn't rest on their laurels, instead coming out strong and assuaging any fears of a familiar 3rd quarter letdown. Tiago Splitter scored 9, Duncan had 7, Parker had 6, and Boris had 7. The Spurs "merely" outscored the Thunder 29-24, but broke the 100 point barrier before the 4th even began. This also included the dagger-of-all daggers, a Duncan corner 3 (in the offensive flow):
DUNCAN CORNER THREE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA pic.twitter.com/vAi0HwiFn3— Chris Itz (@Chris_Itz1) March 26, 2015
The bench, to their credit, saw out the game in fantastic fashion, winning the 4th quarter 30-17.
This game was almost too perfect for the Spurs. It is hard to pick out a favorite, so everyone should set their DVRs to record the 2 a.m. re-showing if you missed it. It was basically one extended highlight reel. The Spurs snapped a four-game winning streak for the Thunder, and improved to 11-3 since their turning point during the Rodeo Road Trip.
The Spurs have led by at least 10 points in each of their last 14 games, including: 20 points in 7 games, 30 points in 4 games, and 40 points in 2 games! (44 tonight)
The Spurs offense was in prime Spurs mode, but OKC's defense was also, at times, comically bad. They couldn't guard a pick-and-roll to save their life, had no rim protection, and forgot to close out on the deadly Spurs three-point shooters.
After missing dozens of wide-open three-pointers against the Mavs, the Spurs were an unbelievable 62% against the Thunder (see previous note re: wide open looks + ball movement).
Westbrook had two points and zero field goals in 14 minutes after his hot 1st quarter start.
Westbrook somehow also looked out of control…on defense. He was caught overplaying, and at times was flying around with no regard and actually hurting the team defense.
The Spurs +/- numbers are absolutely insane, led by Kawhi at +30 and Parker at +28!
Marco Belinelli's stat line belies how great he actually was on his 29th birthday. His defensive energy was as good as I've ever seen, and he made plays when this was a still a game.
Even though he played only 23 minutes, Kawhi showed glimpses of having a totally complete game, and looks to have learned something from each of the big 3. He flashed: passes that were shades of Manu, rebounding that hearkened back to in-his-prime Duncan, ran the one-man-fastbreak like Tony did (and does), and played defense like only Kawhi can.
The Dallas Mavericks will make the trip down to San Antonio on Friday for a chance at redeeming Tuesday's loss.