Oklahoma City, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (25 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists) and Chris Paul (16 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists), was able to overcome an early 17-point deficit - earning its seventh win after a 10-point deficit. San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge (22 points and 11 rebounds, 4-4 from three) and DeMar DeRozan (30 points and 4 rebounds) supplied most of the team’s firepower but could not offset a poor shooting night from its other guards.
- Aldridge hitting from three on kickouts is becoming a normal thing. Seeing him and DeRozan take and make the first three 3-pointers in the game? PROGRESS.
- Beautiful (transition) game: A Jakob Poeltl swat of a Thunder lay-up attempt at one end led to a DeRozan and-1 at the rim. Lonnie Walker IV later pushed the ball ahead on an OKC miss and found a cutting Poeltl in for a JakJam.
- Floppy play: 1 - Ran at the start of the second, the action netted the Spurs a Derrick White jumper and a corner three by Rudy Gay after a slew of offensive rebounds.
- Opponents that would have made great Spurs: Steven Adams - low-key and low-maintenance workhorse who plays well off of the ballhandlers and takes up a ton of space in the paint.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has more than impressed in only his second season. He stripped Dejounte Murray in an early possession and took it coast-to-coast for a layup. SGA looks like he’s a little further along in his development, at least on the offensive end.
- If Bryn Forbes is not hitting shots . . .
- Walker IV’s biggest value this season might be as a change-of-pace initiator on offense especially when the guards’ shots are not falling. For example, Lonnie pieced together this enthralling sequence to start the fourth: end-to-end fastbreak layup, tip-in on a Patty Mills’ miss, saving a certain turnover at halfcourt, and a corner three.
- With this week’s all-decade team discussions, one of the biggest what-ifs for me is whether the 2012 Spurs team that lost to OKC in the conference finals (after a 20 game winning streak) would have beaten the Heat in the finals? I am not so sure now.
- Thunder analyst and former NBA power forward Michael Cage had one of the most beautiful coiffs in the mid 80s.
- Ugliest NBA uniforms in recent years? OKC would have to be up there along with Sacramento and Atlanta.
- In case you haven’t glanced at the first round of all-star voting results, the Lakers’ Alex Caruso and the Celtics’ Tacko Fall have more votes than any eligible Spur. Let’s get voting!
- Both teams came out of their corrals shooting the ball well. Danilo Gallinari took advantage of shorter defenders, while the Spurs were led by DeRozan with 12. Thunder rookie Darius Bazley connected on his first three shots and the teams left the stanza tied at 27. San Antonio snatched the lead on a 15-0 run behind whirring ball movement. The Thunder bench, led by Dennis Schroder, stormed back by swatting numerous Spurs shots and forcing turnovers while scoring easily off them. San Antonio stabilized itself enough to go into the break up 55-46 - the difference being four more 3-pointers by the good guys.
- A Pop timeout came a mere 50 seconds in after Adams converted an and-1 and found Gilgeous-Alexander for a lay-up. Oklahoma City repeatedly singled out Forbes on defense to much success - getting the Spurs into foul trouble and tying the game midway through the third. Numerous San Antonio possessions devolved into rushed or forced action, which allowed the Thunder to regain the lead late in the period. Despite ample time in the last minute, the Spurs weren’t able to generate a 2-for-1 situation that’s been the hallmark of Ginobili-led teams and squandered a chance to push the lead out.
- Adams dominated the Spurs bench to get things going in the fourth. Walker IV single-handedly kept San Antonio in it with nine points of his own. The Thunder netted their biggest lead of seven with better execution and shooting in the halfcourt. DeRozan attacked the rim at will to keep things close. However, Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander spent the waning minutes running pick-and-rolls to get teammates or each other decent shots. San Antonio withered in response trying to keep up,and despite a late push by its two stars, Oklahoma City kept the Spurs at bay from the free throw line.
San Antonio takes on MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo and the league-leading 31-5 Bucks in a rare home-and-home series starting in Milwaukee on Saturday night 7:30 PM CT and back in San Antonio Monday night at 7:30 PM CT.