It was a tale of two halves on the Spurs’ final game ahead of the All-Star break, with the Spurs’ playing some exciting, fast paced offense to score 73 points in the first half, only to fall flat in the second half for just 41 total points. However, on this night it was enough against a one of the few teams in the league with a worse record, and the Oklahoma City Thunder were shorthanded to boot. The Spurs were able to do just enough down the stretch to hold on for the 114-106 win and improve to 3-2 on the Rodeo Road Trip.
Keldon Johnson led six Spurs in double figures with 22 points, and Jakob Poeltl had a 20-point, 17-rebound double-double. Tre Mann led the Thunder with 24 points, and scarely-used Theo Maledon had 22 points off the bench.
- First Quarter Doug? McDermott has been the Spurs’ hot hand in the first quarter on the Rodeo Road trip, averaging over 8 points on 69% shooting. That wasn’t the case tonight as he only had 4 points on 1-3 shooting in the first, but what this reminds me of is back in the day, the Spurs had someone whom they almost always gave the ball to on offense first because it was a near automatic bucket, and it wasn’t one of the Big Three. My mind is telling me it was Bruce Bowen from the corner?
- Both teams struggled shooting early as the Spurs hit just 2 of their first 10 shots and the Thunder 3-10. The Spurs offense woke up from there, though, and after scoring just 10 points in the first 5 minutes, the scored 24 in the final to take a 34-29 lead. Lonnie Walker was once again a big part of that, scoring 10 points off the bench, and Devin Vassell also hit back-to-back threes to help push up the lead — although one was ruled out of bounds in between quarters, taking what was an eight-point lead down to five.
- The Thunder scored first 6 points of second to take lead, but the Spurs responded 9-0 run after getting down by as much as 4. Later, Walker and Johnson had their own little 10-point onslaught to push the lead to double figures. Josh Richardson — who first entered for his first minutes as a Spur with 5:52 left in second — assisted Johnson on the drive for an and-one as part of that run and hit his first three-point attempt to cap it off, and the Spurs ended the half up 73-58.
- Josh Primo had a rough night as the main point guard off the bench with Tre Jones out with a sore knee. He finished the night with just 1 point on 0-5 shooting with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Being the youngest player in the league, he’s still learning and will have nights like this, but the key is he never looks disheartened or hesitant to keep trying. That’s a very good sign for a 19-year-old.
- The third quarter was an offensive struggle for both teams, although less so for the Thunder, who outscored the Spurs 23-16 to cut the lead to 89-81. Both teams missed plenty of easy looks throughout, and the Spurs especially struggled from three, hitting just 2-10 in the quarter. Their overall shooting percentage dipped from 53% at halftime to 44.7% by the end of the third.
- Gregg Popovich was left a little perplexed with the refs to start the fourth quarter after a five-second violation was called on an inbound play, but the refs must have started counting before they handed the ball to Primo, because it sure didn’t feel like five seconds, and the Spurs had barely started running their motion to get open when it was called. (Pop could even be heard asking, “What the h*** was that?”) Then, what clearly looked like clean, forced jump ball by Vassell was called a foul, and finally another Spurs inbound play was blown dead before it began on a phantom offensive foul call against Zach Collins.
- The starters returned to get the offense going again the fourth, and Jakob Poeltl was a big part of that, forcing his will in the paint and getting offensive rebounds. It was still a more gritty than pretty quarter compared to the flowing offense of the first half, but they gradually kept building the lead back up to 16 with 5:25 left. However, they went cold late, failing to get a field goal in the final 3:48 of the game, but they were able to hold on stretch and never truly felt in danger of losing (despite some late miscues).
For the Thunder fans’ perspective, visit Welcome to Loud City.
Dejounte Murray is headed off the All Star weekend, while everyone else will get eight days off before the Spurs return from the break on Friday, Feb. 25 at the home of the Washington Wizards. Tipoff will be at 6:00 PM CT on Bally Sports SW-SA.