THUNDER TRAILS SERIES
6-for-11 Shooting numbers for Reggie Jackson, who scored 13 points, and made two rebounds and two assists
7 Assists for Russell Westbrook, who scored 25 points and grabbed five rebounds
9 Rebounds by Kendrick Perkins, including four on the offensive end
13-7 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points
19-for-23 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder on the night
28 Points for Kevin Durant, ho grabbed nine rebounds and passed out five assists
47 Bench points for the Thunder on the night, including nine for Caron Butler
May 19th, 2014
SAN ANTONIO – The Thunder made its run, had all of the momentum and seemed poised to make Game 1 a tough, crunch time battle. Instead things went sideways for a three minute stretch late in the third quarter, and the Thunder’s chances to pull off a comeback victory went by the wayside.
Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club battled and showed flashes of imposing its style and brand of basketball in Game 1, but ultimately fell to the San Antonio Spurs 122-105. The Spurs jumped on the Thunder early out of the gates, but Brooks’ squad closed out the first and second quarters strong before making a big push in the third quarter to take its first lead since the opening minutes. Ultimately, however, the Thunder couldn’t sustain its defensive intensity for long enough.
The Spurs shot 57.5 percent from the floor on the night as the Thunder didn’t stop the ball or defend the pick-and-roll with its normal strength and force. In order to bounce back in Game 2, that aspect of the game will have to be much improved.
“We take pride in our defensive play, but tonight we didn't play a good enough defense to beat this team,” Brooks said. “One of the things that we have to do a much better job of containing the basketball. This team always figures out ways to get better, bounce back the next game. We're going to definitely have to play much better to beat this team.”
The first step in making the Spurs feel more pressure in Game 2 will be to stop the ball at the point of attack and force San Antonio to take contested two-point jumpers. The blueprint for that brand of Thunder defense was on display in the third quarter, when Brooks’ team held the Spurs to just 22 points on 8-for-22 shooting along with four turnovers. The Thunder’s perimeter players like Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant impacted the ball during that 12 minute period and forced the Spurs into uncomfortable spots on the floor.
“They got two easy looks off of mistakes, but other than that I didn't think they got anything easy that third quarter,” Brooks said. “We just have to be able to do it throughout the game. It's a possession by possession game. You can't let up.”
“We just have to do a better job of closing the paint off,” Westbrook said. “I thought we did a better job in the second half of just putting more pressure on them, making it tough for them to get inside the paint.”
On offense, the Thunder had success for most of the night, but needed to pair its execution with stops in order to get into transition. Cutting down on the 16 turnovers will be crucial moving forward, but the Thunder did manage 46.3 percent shooting, including 12-for-27 from three-point range.
Durant finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists while Westbrook had 25 and seven assists. The bench amassed 47 points, led by Derek Fisher’s 16, Reggie Jackson’s 13 and Caron Butler’s nine, but the Thunder will need to sustain its focus and precision for all 48 minutes on Wednesday night.
“We turned the ball over a little bit too much, but we've got to continue to trust no matter if guys are hitting shots or not,” Durant said. “We've got to keep playing within our offense and playing with the pass, and we'll be fine.”
The preparation for Game 2 starts immediately for the Thunder, who has enough collective experience to understand that momentum doesn’t carry from game to game in the playoffs. Each contest is unique and the Thunder recognizes that even though Game 1 didn’t go the way that it hoped, Game 2’s outcome can and will likely be quite different. The Thunder’s leaders will ensure that the team gets right to work in practice on Tuesday in order to be as prepared as possible for its chance to gain a road win on Wednesday night.
“I think it starts tomorrow in the film session,” Butler said. “Watching the film and being critical and honest with ourselves, moving forward and getting ready for Game 2.”
The Thunder made a push to take a one point lead, at 78-77 with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter, but the Spurs responded with a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach. The burst started when Manu Ginobili hit a short jumper, then Tim Duncan hit a layup and an ensuing foul shot. Boris Diaw made a free throw after a Thunder turnover, then Aron Baynes and Ginobili each made layups, giving San Antonio an 87-78 edge with 57.5 seconds remaining in the quarter. During the stretch, the Thunder missed four straight shots and turned the ball over on three straight possessions.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Thabo Sefolosha does a nice job of helping down on the much bigger Tiago Splitter to save a bucket. Nice job out of a timeout by Russell Westbrook to attack out of the pick-and-roll. Excellent pressure by Kevin Durant on the block to force his man to dribble out of bounds. Nice post defense by Steven Adams to stay solid and block Tim Duncan’s shot. Amazing anticipation by Derek Fisher to slap the ball away from his man on a backdoor cut. Strong defense by Russell Westbrook to end the half to not allow the Spurs to get a shot off.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Good pick-and-roll defense by Nick Collison to force Tony Parker into a travel. Strong post defense by Kendrick Perkins to force a bad miss and a shot clock violation. Collison dives on the floor for a loose ball, getting another stop for the Thunder. Smart play by Russell Westbrook to tip a defensive rebound to himself and then save the ball inbounds. Fisher hustles to get around a screen and draws an offensive foul against the Spurs. Westbrook does a nice job of tipping a defensive rebound to Durant to start a fast break.
“We had a couple moments during this game where we got a little momentum and a little rhythm, but we have to play with that same energy and that disposition for 48 minutes to win a ball game.” – forward Caron Butler