A Win Is A Win, But Second Half Deficiencies Continue
By: A. Suave Francisco
When hearing that statement, one may guess that the Thunder's win over a short-handed San Antonio Spurs team wasn't impressive. Ignore the fact that OKC's fate depended on Brandon Paul missing a three-pointer at the end of the game, and pay attention to Russell Westbrook and once again, Steven Adams.
Still, there's an asterisk behind Adams' 19-point, 8-of-13 shooting night, which is the most obvious reasoning behind San Antonio's third-quarter comeback. By halftime, Adams headed to the locker room with 17 points. Basic math and basketball knowledge would indicate that he only scored one basket in the second half, and that was in the third quarter.
He was a real mismatch for an aged and less-physical Pau Gasol, especially without LaMarcus Aldridge to handle the task of guarding him. Westbrook noticed that and took every opportunity to get Adams involved in the first half. However, something changed in the second half and like clockwork, the Spurs B-team made a comeback.
This wasn't a great offensive showing for Westbrook as far as scoring is concerned, finishing with 19 points on 9-of-22 (40.9%) shooting. But the way he distributed the ball and the decisions he made during the game were a lot saner than they've been in various games this season.
On the contrary, just like Adams, Westbrook's assist numbers tapered off in the second half, which is a major reason why Adams didn't get shot attempts. Westbrook sat on eight assists for an entire quarter, which was the quarter San Antonio went on their little rampage that almost handed OKC yet another loss after being ahead by double-figures.
A positive in all this is that the Thunder didn't let another team come back to beat them. There is some improvement in that area even though they almost went into overtime after a turnover and very lucky missed shot by San Antonio to end the game. They regrouped mid-way through the fourth quarter and dialed in a little more on the offensive end of the floor. There was still no Steven Adams, which is bothering, but a few shots from Westbrook, Paul George finally getting a three to go down and a positive defensive effort when it mattered most propelled the home team to a win.