By Randy Renner
In the middle of downtown San Antonio stands a small church that has become the iconic symbol of the state of Texas.
Last night, a few miles away inside the AT&T Center the Thunder must have felt like that small band of Texans trying to fight off the massive Mexican army of General Santa Ana, except the Texans fought a lot harder and a lot longer.
They held out for days before being wiped out...the Thunder lasted about a quarter and a half.
It was 36-33 OKC about halfway through the second quarter. The offense was sputtering around a little but the defense was playing pretty good. Steven Adams had come in early providing a nice spark, Nick Collison went all Lance Stephenson on us nailing a tip-in off an in-bounds pass with 0.01 on the shot clock.
But from that 36-33 moment on, it was all Spurs all the time. San Antonio outscored the Thunder 76-44 over the next two and a half quarters to win 112-77 sending the Thunder to their worst playoff loss ever and tying the all-time worst franchise playoff loss, going back through all the Seattle years.
“You know, it’s easy for you to go hide and run and be negative and clash,” NBA MVP Kevin Durant said, “but it’s hard for you to stay positive at a time like this when we lost by a lot two games in a row. It’s hard for you to stay together, but we have a group full of guys that’s not frontrunners, and we’ll figure it out."
Brave words from KD because looking at these first two games you have to wonder if there's any way in the world to figure this out.
Game 1 looked to be the result of the Thunder adjusting on the fly to the absence of Serge Ibaka. The team hadn't dealt with a loss like his before, he'd only missed three games in four years afterall so it was perhaps understandable.
Most of the breakdowns in Game 1 were on the defensive end.
In Game 2, the defense was much better, at least for a while, but the offense was just horrific. The Thunder couldn't get shots to fall, couldn't get to the free throw line and even when they did they missed from there too.
"It definitely doesn't fell good and it shouldn't," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters after the game, "we got our butts kicked. But we still have an good opportunity to come back and win Game 3 but we're gonna have to play a well-balanced, multiple effort, 48 minute game to beat this team."
In Game 1 theThunder put things together for about a seven minute stretch. In Game 2 they more than doubled that, playing well for the first 17-18 minutes or so and they better double that again to even have a chance in Game 3.
"It's possible," Brooks insisted. "We're not gonna have to play special, but we are gonna have to play better."
Some are saying 'Remember 2012' when the Thunder also lost the first two games of the Western Conference Finals in San Antonio only to come roaring back and win Game 3 by 20 points and then win three more in a row to take the series.
The problem with that is the Thunder hadn't been embarrassed in either loss, they'd just been beaten. This time around they've been beaten up, embarrassed, kicked to the curb and dropped into the San Antonio River.
"We try not to just say since we were down 0-2 two years ago and we ended up winning that we'll just do the same thing, but we really gotta figure it out on how we need to get better."
This is probably the time now for Brooks to do what he did when the Memphis series was spinning out of control, change up his starting lineup.
Thabo Sefolosha has been terrible on the offensive end (0 points in the first two games on 0-for-9 shooting) and that would be tough to live with even if Thabo's defense was its lockdown usual but it hasn't been. He has one steal in two games and two rebounds and his main assignments, Tony Parker and Danny Green have had big games. Green has been especially hurtful to the Thunder cause. Back in 2012 he managed just 20 points the entire six game series, last night alone Green had 21 on 7-for-10 shooting.
I continue to think Perry Jones deserves a chance to start too. He played 24 minutes last night and just moments after he came in he blocked a shot. But he didn't help much on offense (1-for-4, two points).
Jeremy Lamb was about the best thing the Thunder had going on offense last night, going 6-for-8 and scoring 13 points. Durant and Russell Westbrook managed just 15 apiece while shooting a combined 13-for-40. Durant got to the free throw line five times all game long, Russ didn't get there at all and neither did Reggie Jackson.
The Thunder don't have an official practice today, coaches will use most of the day trying to figure out a game plan that can be executed and then they'll have a couple of full practices to work on things.
So maybe, just maybe that extra time and the extra boost of the home crowd inside The Peake will help the Thunder get back on track and live to see this series make it back to San Antonio for a Game 5.
Of course Colonel William Barrett Travis, hero of the Alamo, might have been having similar hopeful thoughts right before General Santa Ana's men stormed the walls.