Oklahoma City Thunder took it upon themselves to stop the Spurs on Thursday night, and they did it the only way they know how. Kevin Durant dropped 28 points and the playoff atmosphere at Chesapeake Energy Arena pumped up the Thunder defense as they cruised to a win, 106-94.
San Antonio looked to be in control until late in the second quarter, when the Thunder took back their court and drew within just three points to close the half. A flurry by Oklahoma City to open the third period put them in front by double-digits, and the team with the second-best record in the Western Conference never looked back.
The win snapped the Spurs’ 19-game winning streak. San Antonio would have been just the 6th team in NBA history to win 20 straight games had they been able to survive the Thunder onslaught. Oklahoma City’s defensive effort forced 18 San Antonio turnovers as well as a middling 43.2 percent shooting from the field. The Thunder were dominant, shooting 49.4 percent on the night and grabbing 30 points on the fastbreak. SB Nation
Every recap of this game reads as if the Spurs were beat down like the Jazz in Game 3 of the 1998 Finals.
A few key factors in this game:
- Manu Ginobili did not play
- The Thunder had nine more steals than the Spurs (often leading to fast break points), but seven fewer shot attempts
- Tony Parker played horribly – 3 for 10 shooting; 6 points, 3 assists and 3 turnovers
The Spurs led 51 – 48 at halftime and were never in danger of being blown out despite a lopsided third quarter that included very many weird no-calls (for example, 1:27 of the highlight video is a foul on Nick Collison). Regardlress, a bad matchup is a bad matchup. The Spurs will mop up any other team in the Western Conference without a sweat, but the Thunder are able to overcome a lot of mistakes with their speed and athleticism as proven with this regular season sweep.
It’s really hard to believe the Thunder’s lack of depth won’t become an issue at some point, but it is clear that the Spurs are not the team that can exploit that specific problem. – AL
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.