The James Harden era got under way tonight, and it was different. Thunder struggled offensively all night, but still had a chance to win the game. San Antonio’s Tony Parker hit a buzzer beater to send the defending Western Conference Champions packing with a 86-84 loss. Kevin Durant had a double-double at 23 points, 14 rebounds. It’s the first time Oklahoma City had started 0-1 since their first season in Oklahoma City.
The first quarter saw the Thunder jump out 8-0 on the spurs and it seemed like it was the old Thunder all over again. However, Danny Green hit two a basket and a three, and the Spurs had an 11-0 run to answer back. The first quarter seemed like a quarter of runs, and it was ended with the Thunder topping the Spurs after one quarter, 24-21.
Shooting percentages dropped immensely in the second quarter. The Thunder started out the second quarter hitting three of their first four shots, giving them the early 30-27 lead with 9:15 remaining until halftime. The Spurs defense stepped up. From the final 9:15 of the quarter, Oklahoma City went 3-for-19. The Spurs outscored the Thunder 18-10 during that span.
When it looked like the San Antonio Spurs would pull away from the Thunder, Oklahoma City made a run to get back into the game. The Spurs jumped up in the third quarter 61-51 with 4:52 remaining in the quarter. It was the Kevin’s who got back into the game. Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin combined to go on a 10-2, cutting the Spurs lead to 63-61 with 1:53 remaining. The quarter was capped off by Eric Maynor who nailed a 54 foot shot, tying the game at 66. It seemed that momentum was swinging in the Thunder’s direction.
It continued to start in the fourth quarter, Thunder scored three points. It was their largest lead since the second quarter at 69-66. Then the Spurs went on another typical San Antonio run. Spurs went on a 11-0 run, for the second time in the game, giving them a 77-69 lead with 8:21 remaining in the contest.
Oklahoma City made their final run. In the midst of the run, newcomer, Martin nailed a three to tie the game at 80 each with 3:31 left in the game. Oklahoma City though, would get the rest of their points from the free throw line. The Thunder finished 0-for-4 int he final 3:31 of the ball game. The Spurs, however, went 2-for-5 in the final 3:31, which was the difference.
Oklahoma City had chances to win this game in the waning seconds of the game. However, a bad shot by Russell Westbrook, and then Kevin Durant had the ball stolen from him with five seconds left. Then Tony Parker got open after Westbrook bit on the pump fake. Parker caught the ball outside the arc, stepped inside and nailed the jumper as time expired. Ibaka gave chase, but was to no avail.
Keys to the Game
Team Chemistry didn’t seem like it was really lacking tonight. It was just other things that effected the Thunder. They ran the same pick and roll plays they ran with James Harden. Unfortunately, the shots didn’t fall tonight. Call it rust. I think it’ll just get better.
What. The. Heck OKC? 18 turnovers? What’s the scariest part about all 18 turnovers? 13 of the 18 came from the starters. 18 points came off those 18 turnovers. Just cannot do that against good teams. They’ll eat you for lunch. It’s amazing how careless Oklahoma City was with the ball. I can do nothing but shake my head.
Find a Third Scorer: B-
I think Kevin Martin played decent in his debut. He had some lapses on defense. However, we were looking for a scorer, and Martin was all of that. He scored 15 points tonight, and a huge three late in the fourth quarter. I’ll be looking for a lot more of this throughout the season. Where was Serge Ibaka? He was very poor on offense.
- How about Kevin Durant tonight? He was quietly efficient tonight. 23 points on nine made baskets. He was being a facilitator of the offense. He also had 14 rebounds tonight, getting up there with some of his career best rebounding games.
- Westbrook played bad, but yeah.. it wasn’t a bad game. Does that make sense? His shots were at the rim, and he kept getting bumped. Shots just weren’t falling.
- Welcome to the Thunder, Kevin Martin. He played well, 15 points on 10 shots. He was almost as efficient as James Harden. Woah, don’t kill me for saying that Harden lovers.
- There won’t be any Spurs meltdown for tonight. Only on the Thunder wins. Meltdowns aren’t nearly as fun when we lose.
- Where was Serge Ibaka tonight? He shot poorly and was basically invisible on defense. He had two blocks, but I honestly don’t remember two. I remember one.
- Oklahoma City was just straight abysmal in the first half. Their shooting percentage of 34% was worst than any half of last season.
- Eric Maynor hit that big shot to end the third quarter. He has 4,000 buzzer beaters, right? Stat is unconfirmed.
- Kevin Durant scored broke the 10,000 point barrier. He is the second youngest player in NBA History to break that mark. He’s only second to Lebron James.
- Russell Westbrook on tonight’s final play: ”I got lost. It’s my fault. I’ll take this one.”
- Also, this was the first time since moving to Oklahoma City that Thunder lost on a buzzer beater. Glad it happened in a regular season game, and not a playoff game.
Few random stats coming up:
- Thunder won the bench scoring 28-23. Which really was complimented by Kevin Martin’s 15 points.
- The rebounding battle also was one by the Thunder, who grabbed 48-39 advantage. They limited the Spurs to just nine offensive rebounds. Something that was a huge sore spot all last season.
- I fully expect the Thunder to lead the league in free throw shooting again. They hit 19-of-23 from the line.
- Also, the Thunder hit 7-for-17 from three-point range. Something at times they really struggled with last season.
Okay, done with the stats, now just statements:
- This is one game. Just the statements Harden > Westbrook are just asinine. Westbrook is one of the top players in the league. Let’s see Harden do 37 points against the Spurs, and then we’ll talk. Until then, I could probably drop 24 points against the Pistons. Westbrook is notorious for starting slow in the season. Give him time, geeze.
- Thabo played well. I don’t know why Scott Brooks continued to stick with Westbrook on Parker. Thabo is by far the best backcourt defender on this team. How long before he quits being so stubborn?
- Remember, this is just one game. Quit over reacting.
Next Up: vs. Portland tomorrow night