By Randy Renner
Even short handed as they are you figured the Thunder would at least be able to hang with the San Antonio Spurs for a half, or maybe three quarters on OKC's home floor.
Maybe somehow keep things close into the fourth quarter then who knows what might happen?
Well no such drama Tuesday night inside The Peake, the Spurs pretty much made sure of that in the first quarter when they jumped out to a 29-10 lead.
The 10 points were the fewest the Thunder had scored in any quarter this season. At that point the Thunder were shooting just 19 percent (4-for-25), they'd also missed four free throws and turned the ball over six times. That Spurs lead got all the way out to 35-10 in the second quarter before the Thunder showed any signs of life.
They went on a quick 11-0 run, got the sellout crowd inside The Peake roaring, forced Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout and then promptly said good night. The Spurs went on a run to stretch the lead back out to 22 and then on out to 34 before winning 113-88.
“Tonight they put on a clinic and we didn’t respond well,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said in the postgame interview room. “Right now, they’re one of the best teams in the game. We have to regroup and find our rhythm …Tonight’s game, we didn’t have it. But I think it’s more them. They’re a very good basketball team. They’re healthy and they’re playing at a high level right now.”
They are indeed. They've now won eight straight and 17 of their last 20. The Thunder are rapidly heading in the other direction having now lost four straight and seven of their last eight.
And remember it was the Spurs who started the Thunder stumbling back on March 25th in the Alamo City. OKC went into that game on a four-game winning streak and looked decent for the first quarter and a half and then a big Spurs run sent them on their way to a 130-91 win over the Thunder.
“Give the Spurs a lot of credit. They’ve been playing great basketball,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “They’re one of the hottest teams in the league right now. We didn’t come out of the gates very good. They took us out of our offense, and when we did get open shots we couldn’t make shots.”
Nothing about the Thunder's game last night looked good. The only bright spot was the return of Andre Roberson from a sprained ankle but he was no more effective at shutting down the Spurs than anyone else.
Adding to the misery were the surprising New Orleans Pelicans who beat Golden State last night 103-100 to move ahead of the Thunder and into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Thunder are now a game behind New Orleans in the loss column but since the Pels have the tiebreaker the Thunder actually have to make up two games with just four left to play. New Orleans has five games left.
“There’s no question we want to make the playoffs,” Brooks said. “We’re going to keep working toward that goal. We knew it was going to be tough. But our guys have battled all year long. We’re not going down like we went down tonight. We’re going to come back and we’re going to regroup and we’re going to play much better Friday night.”
They'd better because a loss to the lowly Sacramento Kings would all but end the Thunder's already small chance of finishing ahead of New Orleans, something that just a week ago was almost unthinkable.