Quick Analysis: OKC Was Elite, For 12 Minutes
By A. Suave Francisco
Other than against the Boston Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder haven't played any championship contending teams. Since most would consider the San Antonio Spurs a contender, their matchup against the Spurs on the road would be a legitimate test for them.
Things have improved for OKC already. Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George are settling into their roles and a few bench players are starting to contribute more. But one thing that still remains a problem for the Thunder is finishing a game...and on Friday, matching their level of play after the first quarter.
The Thunder are now (1-7) in games that come within three points with four-or-less minutes to go in the game. That's a glaring deficiency for this team and it's baffling to most, but some things really stick out as the problem.
In the first quarter, the Thunder are fresh and so are the big three, despite their combined 30 years of experience. It makes sense for them to come out juiced up and ready to play at the top of their game but the issue is when the second team comes in. Although they maintained a comfortable, sustained lead, their intensity slowly diminished, which in an NBA game, will turn the tide rapidly in favor of the opposing team. Especially when the opposing team is the Great San Antonio Spurs.
As far as Friday went, in the second quarter that energy that the starters played with during the first quarter was gone and the Spurs took advantage of that. Danny Green started working towards his five makes from three and LaMarcus Aldridge started imposing his will against whoever was guarding him. That's expected from those two players, they've been doing it for years. But OKC's lack of production offensively, sloppy play and other shenanigans were the difference and they did nothing but fuel San Antonio's comeback.
This was a great chance for the Thunder to display to the NBA world what they can do against elite competition and they showed a glimpse of what they can be. Unfortunately, though, 12 minutes don't win basketball games. OKC's three-game winning streak was snapped and they fell to (7-8) on the season. They'll get a shot at redemption Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.