Some sloppy basketball forced the Spurs to climb out of a 23 point hole for most of the first half, but the home team eventually showed their resiliency Friday night.
OKC's athleticism on the perimeter gave the Spurs fits on both ends of the floor tonight. However the Spurs grit and tenacity from quarters 2-4 proved to be the difference tonight, as they slowly climbed back into the game and delivered a heartbreaking loss to the Thunder. Here's a few takeaways from a wild game, and the Spurs biggest victory of the season.
- Danny Green had what was one of his best games of the season. His activity defensively and timely shooting behind the arc kept his team in the game when Westbrook and Anthony blew the game open in the first half. Most importantly though, I honestly don't think the Spurs could have mounted a comeback like this without Green's defensive contributions.
- Rudy Gay was abused defensively by Carmelo Anthony. Granted, that happens to most guys who are forced to guard the former scoring champ, but it put the Spurs behind the eight-ball for majority of the night. The 12 year vet did help ignite a run in the fourth quarter that gave the Spurs their first lead of the game, so it was a bit of both from the first-year Spur.
- Am I the only one who completely freezes when Ginobili sacrifices his body? #20 has a lot of memorable games on his resumè, but tonight definitely cracks my list as an all time favorite. Even with the prestigious title of "the second oldest player in the NBA" (which Mike Breen never fails to mention during a broadcast), his reckless abandon and relentless effort have yet to slow down. Ginobili's passion is second to none, and basketball fans will continue to cherish it as he plays out what may be his last year on the hardwood.
- Davis Bertans lit the Thunder up from 3 point land during his limited run on the floor tonight. After his putrid performance against the Mavs earlier in the week, that is not something I expected to write anytime soon. In a prime time game against an upper echelon opponent, I think this performance speaks volumes about the Latvian sharpshooter's perseverance, and it's all the more impressive because it came while he played small forward. It could be just what the angry gentlemen who does all of those sideline interviews needs to know that Davis is ready to play in big moments.
- Mills might not have been spectacular tonight, but he showed why PATFO re-signed him last summer. In layman's terms, he finally looked like a point guard Friday night. I said it earlier in the week but I think it should be reiterated. #8 has transformed himself into an unquestioned leader on and off the floor. I also thought he did a great job of running the offense in the second half tonight, as he finally started to put the ball on the deck and force the defense to react rather than settling for 20 footers. His limitations have been well documented, but much like Ginobili, he brings another dynamic to this team when he's on the court.
- I jumped on the Lamarcus Aldridge bandwagon early into the season, and the big man's game Friday only solidified my position. These are the type of games we envisioned when the Spurs made their biggest free agent signing in franchise history three summers ago. The former Longhorn posted a 26 and 9 line and was a force in the fourth quarter. If LA would've played like this from the start of his tenure in San Antonio, he would currently have an entirely different reputation in the Alamo City. But nonetheless, it's a great to see #12 playing at such a high level.
- OKC is a very tough matchup for a guy like Kyle Anderson, as their athleticism can be overbearing. Still, I thought Kyle performed well. What I've grown to like about his game, is that (and this is a trait that reminds of a younger Manu Ginobili) even when he is having a tough time getting to his spots offensively, he finds a way to be productive on the floor. I've been critical of his game in the past, but you can't ignore the strides the former UCLA Bruin has made this season.
- I think tonight was Gasol's most complete game of the season. The veteran Spaniard abused the Thunder down low when they played small, hit some key free throws late, and protected the rim well against a Thunder to team that lives to put their head down and slash to the basket. Hopefully Gasol can be an example to future free agents, as there is no question that playing for the Silver and Black has rejuvenated and prolonged his career.