Aaron Wiggins
(Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder)

Game Recap: Thunder vs. Spurs

Highlights: OKC vs. SAS

BOX SCORE: OKC at SAS

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com

THE BIG PICTURE

In its last matchup before the All-Star Break, the Thunder fought to the finish against a San Antonio Spurs team who built up a 16-point lead in the first half. OKC came out of halftime with a renewed defensive force and even outscored the Spurs 48-41 in the second half but the effort wouldn’t be enough for a full comeback as the Thunder fell short 114-106. Five Thunder players finished in double figures including Tre Mann who led all scorers with 24 points. Additionally, Théo Maledon recorded a new season high with 22 off the bench and Thunder rookie Josh Giddey recorded his third consecutive triple double.

MOMENTS FROM THE 48

Third-Quarter Push

San Antonio’s offense poured in 73 points in the first half and shot at nearly 52 percent from the field. San Antonio, who leads the league in paint points per night, made 19 buckets in the painted area over the first two frames and at halftime, the Thunder coaching staff emphasized the importance of playing with physicality defensively and limiting easy paint looks. 

The Thunder responded out of halftime. OKC’s defense played with an added edge and force limiting San Antonio’s scorers from easy lanes to the rim. As a result, OKC held the Spurs to just 16 points in the third quarter and even outscored them 48-41 in the second half. The Thunder would bring the game to two possessions with under a minute left, but it was too little too late as OKC came up just shy in the final moments and ultimately fell 114-106. 

“Coming out of halftime, I give our guys credit, we did a much better job standing in there defensively,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “But it's one of those games if we could have course corrected that earlier in real time, then we would have been better off forward because we dug ourselves a bit of a hole defensively the first half.”

Triple-Double Times Three

With 3:08 left in the ball game, Thunder rookie Josh Giddey pulled down his 10th rebound of the night which secured his third consecutive triple double and the fourth of his young NBA career. The Melbourne, Australia native finished the night with 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds and became the first rookie since Oscar Robinson in 1960-61 to record three straight triple doubles. 

“I thought he played a really good floor game again tonight,” said Daigneault. “The triple double stuff is just a byproduct of how he's playing.”

“Tt's cool to hear your name in those kinds of categories alongside any greats. Anytime you can be mentioned with them, it's good. But as I always say, it's always about the team,” said Giddey. 

Roby’s Season High

The Thunder’s offense in the first four minutes of action was fueled entirely by Isaiah Roby who was responsible for the Thunder’s first six points of the ball game. The third year forward made his presence known on both ends of the floor as he not only finished the night with a season-high tying 17 points, but also registered a career-high 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. 

“I was happy for him. He did a nice job,” said Daigneault, “Offensively, especially I thought he did a nice job of mixing in his rolls and his pops. He got the ball moved from side to side.”

“I thought he was a big part to start the third quarter setting the tone around the basket and on the glass. He scrapped for some rebounds against [Jakob Poeltl.] Obviously it was an emphasis of ours coming out of halftime to play better defensively and I thought he was right in the middle of that.”

Theo’s Big Minutes

Thunder second year guard Théo Maledon played a big role off the bench for the Thunder as he poured in a season high 22 points in his 29 minutes of action. The Frenchman logged 14 of his points in the first half where he contributed an efficient 5-for-7 performance from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from the 3-point line. 

Maledon has logged significant minutes with the Thunder’s G-League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue this season where he’s been able to sharpen his blade on both ends of the floor. In his 12 games with the Blue this season, Maledon averaged 23.3 points while shooting 41.7 percent from three and 57.9 percent from the field. 

“I just thought he was really aggressive and that's how he needs to play,” said Daigneault. “Going back to his Blue assignment when he was playing really, really good there. That's how he was playing and so he's just got to continue to hit the gas there and then give us good effort defensively.”

THE LAST WORD

“We fought back, we got it to a two-possession game at one point, but I think second half defensively, we were awesome. We were in lanes, we were keeping them out of the paint, chesting guys. When we play D like that we're a tough team to score against and then that sparks our offense and transition.”

Josh Giddey on the second half effort

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Thunder now enters the All-Star Break where the team will enjoy a full seven days before returning to the hardwood to play the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, February 24. Thunder rookie Josh Giddey will be in Cleveland participating in the NBA All-Star weekend festivities as he competes in both the NBA Rising Stars Game on Friday as well as the Skills Challenge on Saturday.