Game Recap: Thunder 131, Spurs 103
For the second straight game, the Thunder’s offense flourished at an extremely high level. The dominating 28-point margin of victory came as a result of elite ball movement and involvement from every single player to touch the floor.
Capitalizing on its commanding victory on Friday against Denver, the Thunder once again flexed its depth and offensive firepower. Only 12 days prior, the Spurs defeated the Thunder on its home floor by eight points. The Thunder played with a chip on its shoulder on Sunday and responded with a 28-point victory, its largest win over San Antonio.
The Thunder’s offense buzzed with pace and tempo. Missed shots for the Spurs resulted in transition opportunities on the other end. The Thunder locked in on transition grabbing loose rebounds and zipping the ball down the floor before San Antonio’s defense could get set. However, OKC struggled initially on the defensive end to hold off a Spurs squad who caught fire from behind the arc. Midway through the second quarter, the Spurs were shooting 43 percent from behind the arc with 21 of its 45 points coming from the area. Even more, the Spurs were racking up second chance points off offensive rebounds which allowed them to keep the game close in the early going.
“The biggest thing that we had just talked about was we were really getting hurt on the glass. It was the main point that we tried to focus on,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “Because we rebounded a little bit better in the third, it allowed us to get out in transition a little bit more. [It] allowed us to play faster, and that was helpful to us kind of getting going offensively.”
The Spurs pushed its lead to nine points midway through the second frame forcing Thunder head coach Billy Donovan to call a timeout to quell the momentum. Out of that timeout, Danilo Gallinari sank a 3-pointer and Luguentz Dort snatched a steal for an easy layup in transition notching two of his 15 points on the way to a perfect 6-6 performance from the field.
The 5-0 swing was enough for Coach Popovic to call a timeout after only 55 seconds elapsed on the clock from the Thunder’s previous timeout. However, that spurt of offense for the Thunder was the beginning of a monstrous 16-0 run and an even bigger 62-28 run through the end of the third quarter to lift OKC to a 25-point lead.
“Moving the ball, getting stops and getting out quick,” the formula for the Thunder’s success as laid out by Dennis Schröder. “That was pretty much it. Just active and shared the ball.”
Meanwhile, the Spurs went cold form behind the arc. After knocking down 8-20 in the first half, OKC held them to a frigid 0-10 in the third frame. In the paint, the Thunder bigs, Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel worked hard to make Spurs center LeMarcus Aldridge as uncomfortable as possible. By the end of the night, Aldridge was held to eight points on 3 of 10 from the field.
On the other end, the Thunder’s paint production thrived from not only Noel and Adams, but from perimeter players as well. Aggressive attacks from Noel; strong finishes from Dort and smooth floaters from the point guard trio helped the Thunder outscore the Spurs 74-42 in the lane. As a result, the high-quality looks on offense also allowed three Thunder players to finish 100 percent from the field: Mike Muscala (3-3), Nerlens Noel (5-5) and Dort (6-6).
The Spurs held a nine-point advantage with 7:21 left in the second quarter. Coach Donovan’s timeout marked the beginning of a ferocious 62-28 run until the end of the third quarter. Major contributions from Nerlens Noel, Dennis Schröder and Danilo Gallinari pushed the Thunder to a very comfortable 98-73 advantage going into the final stanza. In the third quarter alone, the Thunder shot 66.7 percent while the Spurs shot at only 23.8 percent from the field.
“That energy is contagious,” said Paul. “That’s the good thing about our team, we feed off each other.”
GALLO FOR 2021 DUNK CONTEST pic.twitter.com/8BENpw7HNZ— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 24, 2020
Play of the Game
Steven Adams and Dennis Schröder added to the entertainment of the evening in a textbook, two-man game possession. Schröder came off of a high ball screen from Adams and after bailing on a 3-point shot, dropped the ball to Adams at the high post. Schröder immediately ran behind his 5-man while his defender stayed put at the top of the key.
Adams, recognizing that Schröder was alone, handed off the ball behind his back to Schröder who took one dribble toward the rim to get the attention of Adam’s defender. The Thunder’s sixth man elevated off of one foot and carefully floated the ball toward the rim while Adams was gearing up to meet it at the basket. What followed was a one-handed slam from Adams and a roaring Thunder crowd who witnessed the play.
Stat of the Night8
For the first time in Thunder history, eight players finished in double figures: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander , Steven Adams , Luguentz Dort , Dennis Schröder , Danilo Gallinari and Chris Paul , Nerlens Noel  and Abdel Nader . Adding to the Thunder’s stat stuffing night was Gilgeous-Alexander (13 rebounds) , Paul (10 assists) and Adams (14 rebounds) who also notched double-doubles.
“You don’t know where it’s coming from. We’ve got so many people who can score. We’re moving the ball, sacrificing for each other. We’re playing unselfishly. That’s what coach is telling us to do,” said Schröder. “It’s just amazing to see how even when you’re on the bench, you’re just excited that we play unselfishly. You just got to keep it going.”
“Just making the right plays,” said Paul. “If a guy misses it, you don’t care because you’re making the right play and as long as we’re doing that we’ll live with the results.”
Quotes of the Night
“Everybody played with an edge and in the second quarter, we flipped it a little bit and had a lot of energy.” –Dennis Schröder
“We have a very unselfish team. When they move the ball, share the ball, and the ball finds the open man generally, we are able to have a great offensive night. I thought tonight the ball found a bunch of different people, and that’s why I think we played so well offensively because everyone was involved.” –Coach Donovan
After two games at home, the Thunder hit the road to take on Chicago on Tuesday in search of its ninth straight road win for the first time in Thunder history. This marks the second and final meeting with the Bulls with OKC holding the 1-0 series lead this season.