Recreation recap: Thunder 107, Spurs 102
With the All-Star break on the horizon, the Thunder held on for 48 minutes to finish the primary half of the season robust. After trailing by as many as 14 factors, the Thunder dug in his heels on the defensive finish and demonstrated robust offensive execution late to defeat Spurs on house turf.
The Thunder would have had loads of probabilities to gracefully withdraw from Thursday night time’s recreation. Circumstances have stacked up in opposition to OKC on a number of events: the second night time of a recreation in a row, a day withdrawn from its lowest recreation of the season, an All-Star break recreation and double digits within the mid- time. . However as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander famous the night time earlier than, this isn’t a group that’s going to let go.
“I assumed our guys did a hell of a job,” mentioned Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “I give our guys lots of credit score, we had been 11 at halftime and it is simple to place it away, you get a two quarterback break. It is one thing that has marked this group all season and has been on show once more tonight.
In contrast to the low scoring recreation the night time earlier than, Thursday’s recreation obtained off to a really completely different begin for the Thunder. OKC knocked down prime six 3-pointers within the first quarter to a 50 p.c clip that took the group to 27 factors within the first body – greater than any of the Thunder’s quarterbacks the night time earlier than.
– OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 5, 2021
Nonetheless, San Antonio opened the second quarter with a large 20-7 run to construct up a 10-point lead. It was Spurs ‘second unit that obtained the ball rolling, amassing 16 of Spurs’ 37 factors over the quarter, but it surely was Dejounte Murray who added eight extra factors to construct up the momentum.
The Thunder held their very own in the course of the race and refused to present in. With just below 4 minutes left on the clock, the Thunder had decreased the result in simply six factors after a 3 level from Mike Muscala from the nook with an help from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder had began stringing collectively defensive saves and forcing San Antonio’s uncommon turnovers and capitalizing on the opposite finish.
After trailing by 11 within the first half, the Thunder erupted at half time with a surge of offensive vitality that once more flowed from their protection. OKC pressured seven uncommon turnovers by Spurs in third body and outscored them 31-23. Offensively, it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who led the assault within the third quarter with 13 factors. The Thunder shot 56 p.c within the third body alone and within the fourth the Thunder trailed simply three factors.
“I believe the beginning of the third quarter was actually essential,” mentioned Thunder middle Mike Muscala. “The primary unit did a great job popping out of the gates, setting the tone for the second half and it is such an essential second.”
– FOX Sports activities Oklahoma (@FOXSportsOK) March 5, 2021
OKC racked up their largest lead of the sport within the fourth quarter due to a 14-2 run that was punctuated by an SGA float with just below six minutes to go. San Antonio continued to show the ball to the tune of 19 whole errors for the night time, which led to 26 factors for the Thunder on the opposite finish of the ground – together with 9 within the remaining body. Spurs common the fewest turnovers per recreation and their 19 on Thursday nearly doubled their in a single day common.
“It was group protection,” mentioned Daigneault. “Our guys had been actually tight. They had been on a rope. Once you do this and drive groups to undergo a crowd, it is exhausting to play in opposition to.
The disciplined protection additionally translated right into a disciplined offensive efficiency which was totally displayed within the closing moments of the sport the place the Thunder continued a gradual stream of attacking with transition buckets and journeys to the free throw line. On the finish of the night time, OKC made 21 free throws in comparison with 12 in San Antonio.
“I am simply making an attempt to get the perfect shot I can,” Gilgeous-Alexander mentioned in his post-game interview with FOX Sports activities Oklahoma. “We simply have to remain resilient and attempt to get the perfect shot we will for a complete of 48 and I believe we tried all night time and it paid off.
“Everybody takes half within the protection” pic.twitter.com/xoJGdDotnv
– OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 5, 2021
The Thunder had been in the course of their 18-6 run within the third quarter, but it surely wasn’t till one monstrous play from Isaiah Roby that Gregg Popovic was pressured to request a day trip to rally his group. Dejounte Murray returned the ball for San Antonio’s uncommon eleventh time within the recreation, which despatched the Thunder to the races. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander accelerated on the bottom, despatched it to Theo Maledon underneath the rim who seen Roby sprinting in the course of the bottom. That is when Maledon dropped the ball to Roby in the course of the lane because the second-year ahead climbed up, pulled his proper arm again and punished the rim with a one-handed blow in opposition to Jakob Poeltl.
“It was a transitional piece that had been good for us all night time. We had been actually linked in protection, ”mentioned Roby. “It was only a nice group effort to get so far.”
With a free throw on the finish of the primary quarter, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cashed his 2,000th profession level in a Thunder uniform in his one hundredth recreation as a Thunder participant. With this timeline, Gilgeous-Alexander turned the third quickest participant in OKC historical past to achieve the two,000 level milestone.
The offense solely continued for the third-year goaltender all through the combat as he completed the night time with 33 factors and eight assists. Even supposing Spurs have sought to wrap and shield the paint, SGA has discovered methods to generate high quality appears for himself and his teammates by watching the bottom and choosing the right spots and taking part in in each possession.
“It is simply one thing I labored on,” Gilgeous-Alexander mentioned. “Each actually good level guard has that of their recreation. Having the ability to do a number of issues on the similar time, watch the pitch, preserve the guard in your hip, preserve your dribble alive to increase the sport and that is one thing I do. attempt to enhance myself.
“He is actually gifted for the downhill,” mentioned Thunder middle Mike Muscala, who has acquired a number of SGA assists. “He is such an elusive ball handler, creator and penetrator. His shot makes him actually exhausting to maintain.
“It simply exhibits our resilience. We have now a bunch of fellows who’re opponents. On the finish of their day, they simply wish to win. Irrespective of how the video games go, our manner, not our manner, fall not fall, it is one thing we will do each night time. You noticed this tonight for 48 hours. It ended up carrying out on the opposite group. It was in our favor.
“We put them in troublesome positions, doing jumps and doing issues they did not wish to do and we had been capable of profit from that.”
– Isaiah Roby
After 36 video games in a condensed first-half schedule, the Thunder and the remainder of the NBA will get pleasure from a much-needed respite throughout the All-Star break. This might be a possibility for the group to recharge their batteries and sharpen their blades earlier than coming into one other demanding half of the season. The Thunder’s first recreation of return in motion is Thursday, March 11, in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks inside Chesapeake Power Area.
“On the finish of the day, we wish to come again higher after the break. Now’s the precise time to take a psychological and bodily respite. Anybody can come off and it is a good pondering time for the blokes. It permits the blokes to only breathe deeply, ”mentioned Daigneault.
“Simply the feelings of the primary half, with the condensed schedule, we undoubtedly want them. We will take full benefit of it and understanding what’s on the opposite aspect which is one other grueling schedule for each group within the NBA, will probably be a tricky climb for each group within the NBA. It is an enormous problem for each group. It is undoubtedly the one we’re wanting ahead to, however it’s essential refuel earlier than that and that is the objective of the All-Star break.