Remember Thunder-Spurs Tip Early Tonight

By Randy Renner, Senior Writer

Don’t pay attention to what that Thunder pocket schedule that you have stuffed in your wallet or that Thunder magnet schedule attached to your refrigerator says about tonight’s game with the San Antonio Spurs.

Tipoff is NOT’s been moved to back to the usual 7:10. ESPN originally planned to air the game as the second half of the network’s NBA double-header tonight but the east coast game that was originally going to be the first game looks more like a dud now so Thunder-Spurs will take the first slot and Rockets-Warriors will be the second game.

Should work out better for ESPN and for Thunder fans who’d just as soon be home by midnight instead of just walking out of Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The last time these two teams got together in OKC the Thunder played well, granted Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker didn't play that night but Parker had missed several previous games and the Spurs were rolling anyway.

The Thunder won 102-92, holding San Antonio to just 41.7 percent shooting.

Russell Westbrook didn’t even have to jump into a phone booth to put a Superman cape on that night, though he did have a triple-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

And head coach Billy Donovan would prefer Westbrook wouldn’t have to resort to late game heroics and that the Thunder won’t end up depending on that sort of thing to win a game.

“He understands because of his ability and talent level that he can make things like that happen but I also know he’s smart enough to realize that every night to rely upon that would be really difficult,” Donovan said after Thursday’s practice session.

The team did have to rely on Westbrook to be “Russdiculous” on Monday night in Dallas and Wednesday night in Orlando when he took over both games in the closing minutes bring the Thunder back from near oblivion to win.

“That’s what makes him unique and special and one of the best players in the world,” Donovan said. “Because he has the ability to impact games like that.”


For the rest of the season the Thunder will be down an assistant coach after Anthony Grant accepted the head coaching position at Dayton University.

Grant played there and still maintains close relationships with several people on the Ohio campus.

“It’s a great thing for Anthony,” Donovan said. “One because Dayton is a great job, terrific resources, an unbelievable commitment from the university, great fan base and it’s his alma-mater.”

Grant has been a longtime assistant for Donovan and he is also a former head coach at Virginia Commonwealth and Alabama. Donovan and Thunder management were pleased Grant was given another opportunity to lead a program and did not want to stand in his way.

Grant is being introduced in Dayton tomorrow and Donovan says he and the rest of the staff will take up the slack and not bring in anyone new.

Randy RennerComment