The Spurs fought hard over the newly formed super team in Oklahoma City, but were ultimately undermanned. I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot of meat on the bone of what was essentially a scheduled loss on Gregg Popovich’s calendar. With the Silver and Black playing 5 games 7 days, PATFO obviously felt like now was the best time to give the 30 and over crowd a quick break before the team runs the gauntlet. What I will say is that the Spurs’ reserves showed no quit against the star studded Thunder. In fact, the young guns found a way to give Russell Westbrook and company a real scare late in the game as they took multiple fourth quarter leads. In the end, the good guys ran out of gas, but it was a gutsy performance and they should be applauded for their effort. Here are the takeaways from what ended up being a competitive night of basketball.
- First of all, Kyle Anderson going down with an apparent knee injury late in the third quarter was devastating. SlowMo has been one of the most consistent and steady contributors on the roster in Kawhi absence this season. Without him, the Spurs will face a plethora of issues. Not only has Anderson upped his game in the scoring department, but the team’s Swiss army knife has also shown off his playmaking ability as his assists per game have significantly risen. There are not many ways to sugar coat this thing. Kyle’s presence on the floor will be sorely missed. Let’s hope he gets back soon.
- In his brief (and I mean blink and you might miss is it) stint on the floor Patty Mills looked great against a team that has typically given the undersized point guard fits in the past. It may have only been 10 minutes of court time, but I honestly think that Billy Donovan’s team would have been in a world of trouble if Pop had let the Aussie gunner loose on them for his normal rotation.
- Brandon Paul may not have been flawless, but he busts his ass every time he checks in. Is there more of a Spurs’ quality check than that? He'd struggled to connect on some great looks from deep (including one with 5 seconds left that would have tied the game), but the rookie’s effort and tenacity on defense more than made up for it. I really don’t know where R.C. Buford and Pop keep finding these hidden gems, but Paul looks like he could be the next possible candidate to rise in the rotation and get himself a pay day in a couple of seasons.
- Joffrey Lauvergne was a grinder against the Thunder’s front court. The preseason phenom battled in the trenches all night and performed admirably in his first true taste of extended minutes this season. His skill set is what makes his game so intriguing, and he had it all on display Sunday night. The big man caused the Thunder fits all game long due to his passing and ability to score down low. Overall, the third year Frenchmen proved that he’ll be ready if called upon as the Spurs begin their trek into December.
- Dejounte Murray was a turnover machine in his duel with Russell Westbrook. For as frustrating to watch as the second year guard out of Washington was Sunday night, the young gun’s handle is showing improvement. You could tell just from his body language that his frustration began to set in, but I was still ultimately impressed with his resolve and fearlessness against the reigning MVP. Dejounte’s role appears to have decreased significantly with the return of Tony Parker last week, but make no mistake about it, he is a big part of the this team’s future.
- Bryn Forbes had a tough game on a night the Spurs really could have used his firepower. OKC’s length on the perimeter seemed to cause discomfort for the second year sharpshooter and he never found a rhythm shooting the ball.
- Did anybody else think Derrick White looked like a SlowMO clone — besides the lack of height, of course? Honestly that was just about the only thing I took notice of in his short stint on the court.
- Davis Bertans definitely deserves some love after a solid night of work. The Latvian forward was aggressive on both ends of the floor on a night that was at times littered with timid Spurs. This was a much needed bounce back performance for Davis, as he had a very rough outing his last time on the floor.