The San Antonio Spurs headed to OKC in an effort to win back to back games for the first time this season, and they were well on their way until a second half capitulation allowed the Oklahoma City Thunder to sneak away with their third win of the year.
The Spurs defense has been the most consistent part of their game in the first section of the season, and it was on display early in this one. The Thunder started 0-7 from the floor, as DJ and Derrick each had a block and a steal in the first 4 minutes of play. This helped them to an early 9-0 run. The Spurs were “running and gunning” early according to Sean Elliot. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and OKC’ 2021 first round pick Josh Giddey found some points to cut the lead. Dejounte wasn’t able to score early on but his penetration into the paint created buckets for others, including on a Keldon cut and a wide open Lonnie Walker three ball. The Spurs finished the quarter the way they started it — with good defense and execution on offense. They held the Thunder to just 14 first quarter points, as they scored 28 themselves.
To start the second, the Thunder came out with more urgency and started to attack the paint. The Spurs though were able to keep an arms hold on this game as the Thunder went on a 6-minute field goal drought, although they did get to the line numerous times. Then when all was going right for San Antonio, Mike Muscala entered the equation. The sharpshooting big man hit three straight threes for the home team as the Spurs failed to contest on each one. Luckily for the Spurs, Dejounte who hadn’t scored up to this point, ended the quarter strong with 4 points and an ally-oop assist. But once again the Thunder had an answer, as Lu Dort nailed a buzzer beating three to shrink the Spurs lead to 10 at the half-time interval.
The Thunder had another quick start, as they rapidly cut the lead to 5 in the first two minutes. SGA started to get on a roll as he attacked mismatches for easy baskets — Doug McDermott and Drew Eubanks were the victims of Shai’ wrath. The Spurs struggled all quarter to find a bucket and after a Jeremiah Robinson-Earl three the OKC Thunder had their first lead of the game. A 10-0 run followed to extend the home team’s lead as the Spurs couldn’t do anything on either side of the court.
The Spurs were down 10 heading into the 4th after a 34-14 third quarter. But just like the first quarter the Spurs started on a 9-0 run as they were able to string some stops together on defense. Keldon Johnson made two free throws to put the Spurs back up before Keldon and Darius Bazley went back and forth scoring on each other. With 4 minutes to go the Spurs found themselves in a 7-point hole as they allowed the Thunder players open looks and put back dunks. Thad Young did his best to pull the Spurs back, even producing 4 points in one possession after getting a missed free throw of his own. Late in the 4th, the Spurs made some free throws and got a few stops to put themselves in a 3-point ball game with 23 seconds to go. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get a good look, with Lonnie eventually chucking up a deep three that banked off the board and then the rim. Spurs lose a bad one; 99-94.
- At the top of the recap I mentioned how the most consistent part of the Spurs has been their defense, well their most inconsistent part has been their offense. 94 points against a young rebuilding Thunder team is disappointing. 41% from the floor, 20 percent from three where they only made 6 on the game, and to top it off, they only went to the line for 9 shots. This is the biggest worry for the Spurs at the moment, as much as they look good in transition, their half-court offense is poor (as many expected at the start of the season), especially with no Jakob to orchestrate points from the center of the paint.
- DJ & DW. Dejounte shot 5/19, while Derrick shot even worse, as he failed to register a field goal in 10 attempts and ended up with 0 points on the night. It is going to be incredibly difficult to win games when the two guards both have off nights, no matter how good their defense is.
- Interestingly, Bryn Forbes didn’t seem to be in the rotation tonight. He only entered the game in the 4th when KBD went out with an injury. Maybe it was because of matchup reasons or it could be because Pop doesn’t see him in the rotation for the foreseeable future, but something to monitor in the coming games
Play of the Game
On an off night, Dejounte was still able to show his value with this great two-way play.
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
3rd place (1 point): Drew Eubanks - 22 minutes, 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 7/8 fgs
On a night where the Spurs didn’t shoot well, Drew was able to efficiently find his points, something he hasn’t been able to do recently. The double-double and the 3 blocks shows the value of what Drew can do on the floor. He could have been higher on the SVP rankings tonight, if not for getting exposed a few times against SGA in that third quarter.
2nd place (2 points): Thaddeus Young - 25 minutes, 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 5/5 fgs
Thad is on a streak of good performances and is really putting his stamp on this young Spurs team with his veteran presence. Just like Drew, he was efficient with his scoring while also providing playmaking and good defense.
1st place (3 points): Keldon Johnson - 38 minutes, 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 9/16 fgs
Keldon was by far the best Spur tonight, and the game high 38 minutes validates that. KJ was aggressive all night and was efficient alongside that. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a partner tonight to help with the scoring load. But still a very good performance from the third year forward.
1st - Dejounte Murray - 17pts
2nd - Keldon Johnson - 10pts
3rd - Jakob Poeltl - 8pts
4th - Devin Vassell - 7pts
5th - Derrick White & Thaddeus Young - 5pts each
6th - Doug McDermott - 3pts
7th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts
8th - Lonnie Walker IV, Bryn Forbes & Jock Landale- 1pt each
Next Game: Vs Kings on Wednesday
The Spurs get a chance to bounce back at home against the 5-5 Sacramento Kings. The two-day rest will hopefully give the Spurs an advantage as they look for their 4th win of the year.