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Against the Thunder, "something happened" to the Spurs

In playing like they'd already won it all, the Spurs assured themselves a loss in Game 2.

I'd like to formally apologize to LaMarcus Aldridge. I don't know about you, but I had some preconceived notions about Aldridge as a Spur. Some were more or less correct (he would fundamentally change the offense) while others were, uh, way off (he would hurt the defense). One thing I felt pretty sure about is that his first playoff run with the Spurs would feature some instances of Aldridge hesitating, some bouts of uncertainty in the face of a ratcheted...

Eh, forget that. Sorry, LaMarcus, but I have a feeling we'll have plenty more amazing playoff performances to dissect. We need to talk about that last play, right? Yeah, it was ugly. Manu even put all his thespian gifts into embellishing the contact from the elbow Dion Waiters threw over the sideline on the Thunder inbounds pass, and the refs still missed it. Down only two points with almost ten seconds left, we lost a chance to set up a play that would give us a third consecutive 2-0 series lead over Oklahoma City.

"What happened?" Pop was asked after the loss. "Something happened," said Pop. "Over on the sideline."

I'm going to risk an unpopular opinion here by suggesting that when you're down 2 points at home to a team you'd beaten by 32 points just over 48 earlier, you open yourself up to "Something Happening."

Last night, the Spurs came out like they got lost on their way to the laundromat and ended up at a basketball game. They scored 4 points through half a quarter and let Russell Westbrook sashay into the paint at will. And this despite Manu's warnings after their annihilation of the Thunder in game 1. You, me, your grandma, my goldfish - everybody knew OKC would run out of the gate like a team who'd just lost by 32. But nobody expected the Spurs to play preseason basketball. Nobody expected Kawhi Leonard to score 14 points on 18 shots and get all but shut down on the offensive end for three quarters of the game.

Credit the Spurs for eventually grabbing the reins of the runaway apple cart that was the first quarter. They even had a lead for a little bit! "I thought we'd lost about three different times," offered a suddenly loquacious Pop in front of the bright lights and blue curtain. One of those times was surely the nine point deficit the Spurs faced just before Danny Green hit a pair from behind the arc after OKC once again failed to cover him in transition with about four minutes left. Unfortunately, that was last we'd hear from him. It was that kind of night, really. For all the Thunder's intensity and effort - credit them big-time for that - they made plenty of exploitable mistakes. There were no Singler-on-Kawhi moments, but there were Thunder airballs that ended up in the hands of OKC big men, tipped passes that led to layups, long rebounds that gave the already vibrant, Westbrook-led offense extra life. Have enough of those moments, and you leave yourself open to "Something Happening."

Fact is, when you win by 32 points, or 10, or even just two possessions, you take the game out of the refs' hands. The Spurs have been down Something Happened Road before. Last year with the shot clock against the Clippers, and in 2013 with the review of Allen's three pointer. Way back in the 2008 WCF against the Lakers, Brent Barry seemingly got fouled by Derek Fisher on a potential buzzer-beating 3 pointer. The Spurs filed an official complaint, which resulted in an official "sorry not sorry" from the league. All of which just underscored the fact that an NBA team had gotten into a situation where they had to put their entire season in the hands of Brent Barry. Unlike they play, though, last night's Spurs managed to eventually come up with a turnover after the Waiters no-call, with the resulting scramble giving them a much better chance at a tying or winning basket than a set play against a set defense. I'm not saying we should write thank yous to Marc Davis, but the game, the series lead, and homecourt were lost before and after he swallowed his whistle.

"We had a shot," said Manu. "We got the steal."

Trouble is, Oklahoma City had already gotten lots of shots. They made enough of them and the series is tied.

See you Friday, everyone.

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