The Spurs hung in well, tired legs and injured players and all, until the midway point of the 3rd quarter. The bench guys made a run in the 4th to get it to 10, but the game was really over in the 3rd period, when the Thunder outscored the Spurs 29-16. The energy was solid in the first half and the Spurs looked like they’d make a go of it. But the legs weakened and shots were short and passes were late. On the bright side, they will be fresher for Denver tomorrow night.
Song of the Game: Blind Melon, “3 Is a Magic Number”
I have a soft spot for 90s grunge acts and Blind Melon is one of my personal vices. Everyone knows them by their big hit, “No Rain”, which is one of the cheeriest songs about depression you’ll ever hear. But this one might be my favorite. It’s from a Schoolhouse Rock remake album from the late 90s featuring modern acts playing all those tunes from my childhood. If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, this is must listen stuff.
Play of the Game: Tony and Tiago and 3 Paratroopers
It was early and it was one of the few highlights of the game, but it was one of the prettiest things I have seen in a long time. Tony drove off of a Tiago screen from the left side of the floor and put on the patented stop-up-and-under move, but with one difference: he did not shoot. As he made the move, both Westbrook (after fighting through the screen) and Perkins (who came off of Duncan to help) just jumped out of the gym, on either side of Tony, out of the play. Which left Parker facing Ibaka for the up-and-under part of his move. Tony leaped for the shot and so did Ibaka, leaving the perfectly rotating Tiago for an easy dump-off and layup.
This is the difference in the 30-year-old leader we now have in Tony and why I think he’s underrated as a PG. He’s still getting better. Where he may have slowed just a touch, he’s a craftier player than he used to be and is more willing than ever to make the good-to-great pass Pop is always talking about.
Trending Up: Tiago
Stop me if you’ve heard this, but if you had Tiago as the Most Improved Spur in your local office pool this season, right now, you are in the lead (I had Kawhi and I may still win, but there is no doubt Splitter will give him a run). His footwork and aggressiveness have just multiplied this offseason and he’s the one Spur who really played well. I really like him starting beside Tim, but we’ll see how long it lasts.
Trending Down: The Schedule
I am fairly confident this is one that Pop will call a “schedule loss” and Wayne’s preview was dead-on with Pop pulling the plug on the starters early. Without Manu and Kawhi and in the midst of a brutal stretch, this was going to be a tough one any way you slice it.
Stat of the Game: Turnovers
The difference in the game was the Spurs’ 17 turnovers, from which the Thunder scored 19 points. That’s difficult to overcome.
I haven’t read Wayne’s Twitter feed yet, because I had to watch the game on my DVR, but I hope he made some comments about the refs. This was a terribly officiated game.
I can’t wait to see this team again in the playoffs. What a great series it will be.