THUNDER TRAILS SERIES
6-for-8 Shooting numbers for Jeremy Lamb in the fourth quarter, where he scored 13 points
8 Rebounds for Steven Adams in addition to nine points
11 Assists for the Thunder’s bench players on the night, including four each for Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher
11-7 The Thunder’s edge in second chance points on the night
13-11 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points tonight
26-24 The score after one quarter, when the Thunder forced the Spurs into four turnovers
43 Bench points for the Thunder, including nine for Caron Butler and eight for Reggie Jackson
May 21st, 2014
SAN ANTONIO – The defensive mentality was present, the Thunder was getting stops and pushing the pace on offense, but after the first quarter on Wednesday, that brand of basketball wasn’t there.
Head Coach Scott Brooks’ squad fell 112-77 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs despite leading after one quarter. All the aspects of the game the Thunder wanted to execute upon, like setting up early on defense, taking away open three-pointers and limiting turnovers or empty possessions on offense were there in the opening 12 minutes. Early in the second quarter, however, the Thunder’s offense devolved into shots without passes or little ball and player movement, which gave the Spurs confidence and momentum heading down to the offensive end of the floor. A massive 25-8 San Antonio burst to end the first half was a blow the Thunder couldn’t respond from, as the Spurs opened up the second half on another big run as well, eventually removing any thought of a comeback attempt.
“We’re disappointed in our performance. We have to make a few adjustments and come back better,” Brooks said.
“We have three or four days to figure it out,” Brooks said. “We will continue to figure things out as a group like we always have done and come back Sunday and play a much better basketball game.”
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for just 30 points on the night, but it wasn’t the dynamic All-Star duo’s lack of production that did the Thunder in tonight. Rather, it was an inability for the offense as a whole to flow cohesively, for high percentage looks to be found and easy decisions to be made. On the night, the Thunder shot just 39.3 percent from the field, including 2-for-20 from the three-point line, while only going 5-for-10 from the free throw line.
Unfortunately, those tough offensive possessions compounded the Thunder’s problems on the defensive end. As veterans like Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins explained after the game, forcing the Spurs to pull the ball out of the net allows the Thunder’s defense to get set. When opponents see the Thunder take and miss difficult shots or have possessions with a lot of dribbling and little passing, it serves as jet fuel for the ensuing offensive possession.
“You really have to get good shots and we didn’t get the best shots,” Collison said. “You’re kind of throwing gas on the fire.”
“If they’re getting defensive rebounds and getting out and running and flowing into offense, then they’re much better than taking the ball out of the net,” Collison continued.
Aside from the first quarter edge the Thunder built, the other bright spot would have been the performance of Brooks’ bench, who tallied 43 points, 11 assists and 23 rebounds on the evening. Regardless of which five players are on the floor at any given time, the Thunder knows that each man has trust, faith and belief in the next man to step up and do their job to the best of their ability.
The series now shifts to Oklahoma City for Games 3 and 4, where the Thunder hopes to hold serve like the Spurs did and come away with two wins. Brooks and his club are solely focused on Game 3, and finding wrinkles, adjustments or any other necessary tweaks in order to help the team get back to playing its typical brand of basketball on both ends of the floor.
“We have a group full of guys who aren’t front runners, and we’ll figure it out,” Durant said. “That’s all we have to do; come in, figure it out and stay together.”
“It’s just important to come out and play our brand of basketball, regardless of if we’re missing or making shots,” Westbrook said. “(We need to) come out and defend like we’re supposed to and play like we’re supposed to.”
This game turned completely early in the second quarter, when the Thunder led 36-33 with 7:47 remaining. After that, the Spurs turned their defense and offense up another gear, utilizing a 25-8 run to break the game open completely heading into halftime. The Thunder’s offense stalled out because of shot attempts early in the shot clock, while the Spurs executed repeatedly, getting a Tony Parker layup and two Tim Duncan free throws to start the burst.
Manu Ginobili then made a layup, Parker hit a jumper and then they each hit two free throws. Parker followed that up with a jumper before Ginobili hit Danny Green for a three-point attempt, Boris Diaw made a layup and Green knocked down another three. With the finmal seconds of the half winding down, Ginobili got an offensive rebound and hit a three-pointer, making the Spurs lead 58-44 at halftime.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Excellent fight underneath the hoop by Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison to fight for a defensive rebound. Great job by the Thunder to get back into transition and stop a Spurs fast break. Incredible hustle by Russell Westbrook to sprint under the rim and track down a loose offensive rebound. Strong screen by Kendrick Perkins forces Kawhi Leonard into another foul. Derek Fisher steps in on a play at the end of the quarter to draw a charge.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Westbrook keeps the play alive underneath the basket and slaps the ball out of bounds off a Spurs player. Westbrook slaps the ball away, dives on the floor and saves the loose ball. Kevin Durant hustles back in transition defense to draw a charge. Excellent ball movement nets the Thunder three straight scores in a row. Nice cut in the lane by Jeremy Lamb to free himself up for a floater.
“We did a pretty good job in the first quarter the first ten minutes of the second quarter, then they went on that run with the three threes and we didn’t come out in the third quarter and give the defensive stand that we needed.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks