San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Postgame Grades and Analysis
In a rematch of the 2012 Western Conference finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder traveled to play the San Antonio Spurs in the great state of Texas. After four quarters of neck-and-neck basketball, the Spurs avenged their series loss by winning 86-84.
The result came by virtue of Tony Parker's game-winning 21-foot jump shot as the game clock expired.
Parker finished the game with 14 points and 11 assists, while Tim Duncan poured in 20 points and eight rebounds of his own. On the losing end, Kevin Durant posted 23 points and 14 rebounds with support from Kevin Martin's 15 points.
So, which players stepped up and who failed in the face of rivalry?
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Tony Parker, SAS: A+
Tony Parker had himself a relatively brilliant game. After a rather average first half, Parker got things going with five points and six assists in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter simply set the stage for a beautiful performance from the 2012 MVP candidate.
Parker scored the final five points of the contest, tying the score at 84 with a clutch three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining. A 21-foot jump shot as time expired sealed the victory for the Spurs and an A+ for Parker.
His final stat line sat at 14 points, 11 assists and three rebounds. An outstanding performance from the Spurs' leader.
Russell Westbrook, OKC: C-
Russell Westbrook posted nine points and three assists in the first half. From thereon out, the former UCLA Bruin was absolutely horrendous.
Westbrook shot just 6-of-21 from the floor and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. He turned the ball over six times and committed three personal fouls, thus outweighing the well-rounded stat line.
Eighteen points, eight rebounds and five assists would normally impress. When weighed down by your assignment scoring at will, forcing you into six turnovers and hitting the game-winning jump shot, however, they begin to pale.
Westbrook's turnover with seven seconds remaining just so happened to lead to Parker's game-winner. A weak start to the 2012-13 regular season from the OKC star.
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Daniel Green, SAS: B
Daniel Green was the epitome of efficiency. In 35 minutes of action, Green put up 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Green also shot 5-of-9 from the floor and connected on three three-pointers.
Although he was not a major factor in the second half, Green played quality minutes all the way through. He played excellent defense and showed no fear in rotating over to take on either Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant.
Although his production won't blow you off of the map, Green played a key role in the Spurs' first victory of the season.
Thabo Sefolosha, OKC: C+
Thabo Sefolosha is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. Unfortunately, he did very little to slow down Danny Green and Stephen Jackson's efficient shooting.
The fact that Sefolosha shot 2-of-7 from the floor and failed to force a turnover is certainly concerning.
With that being said, Sefolosha's two made field goals came at key moments. Each were three-pointers and both either took the lead or closed the gap for OKC.
Sefolosha put forth his usual commendable effort. Unfortunately, his efforts were not enough on this evening.
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Kawhi Leonard, SAS: B+
Kawhi Leonard is one of the quiet heroes of the game. Leonard played with a veteran's poise as he faced a superstar assignment.
In 32 minutes of quality play. Leonard overcame a poor shooting night to come up with four rebounds and five steals. For those who need that number to be confirmed, Leonard did in fact come up with five steals.
Due to his 2-of-8 shooting, four turnovers and four personal fouls, his grade drops. Such a quality defensive performance, however, entails respect.
Kawhi Leonard continues to display the intangibles as well as any.
Kevin Durant, OKC: A-
As it always seems to be, there are very few reasons to criticize Kevin Durant. He put forth an outstanding effort and put forth as quality a stat line as one could find.
Durant's final stat line sat at 23 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and two steals. He shot 9-of-18 from the floor and hauled in two offensive rebounds.
Aside from a few fourth-quarter mishaps, Durant was virtually phenomenal. Though the Thunder fell short of victory, Durant has begun his MVP campaign on the right note.
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Tim Duncan, SAS: B
Tim Duncan was spot on for much of the game, finishing with a stat line of 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. One of those blocks happened to be a throwback swat on a Kevin Durant dunk attempt.
Unfortunately for the future Hall of Famer, he struggled mightily during the fourth quarter. Duncan missed two of his four free-throw attempts, with one of the botches coming with a mere 81-80 lead with 3:12 remaining
Duncan also missed a jump shot with 1:59 remaining and the Thunder down one.
Serge Ibaka, OKC: C+
Serge Ibaka posted a quality stat line with nine rebounds and two blocks. He also shot just 2-of-7 from the floor and committed five personal fouls.
Not the performance the Thunder desired.
His defense on Tim Duncan in the fourth was quality, which saves him from a lesser grade. Throughout the entirety of the first three quarters, however, Ibaka was out of position and displayed the same fundamental flaws that hindered him his first three years in the league.
Allowing Duncan to post 20 points certainly isn't the defensive output that OKC had planned for.
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Boris Diaw, SAS: B-
Boris Diaw has long been one of the most well-rounded players in the NBA. His stat line displayed such a fact: 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one block and a steal.
His ability to take the ball at the high post and facilitate the offense was on full display as he picked the Thunder's interior defense apart.
Although Kendrick Perkins is a formidable opponent, Diaw continued his tendency of exploiting his opponent's weaknesses. For Perkins, that was his poor lateral quickness and inability to play outside of the paint.
Fortunately for the Spurs, Diaw forced Perkins to rely on just that.
Kendrick Perkins, OKC: C
Is there really anything to say about Kendrick Perkins' performance? His defense was a non-factor versus Diaw, while his offense continues to be of very little importance.
The fact that he found himself with four personal fouls early on only further establishes Perkins' stock as a plummeting asset to the Thunder's attack.
With few negatives and even less positives, another average grade is rendered for Perkins.
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San Antonio Spurs: A
The San Antonio Spurs' second unit was once again an intricate part in the success of the team. The bench players combined for 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
This included eight points during the fourth quarter, helping extend the Spurs' lead to 77-69 with 8:21 remaining.
Stephen Jackson was the star of the bench, putting up 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal. He also dropped in five points and an assist in the final frame.
Gary Neal added an additional eight points and three assists.
Oklahoma City Thunder: A
The OKC bench was led by the recently acquired Kevin Martin, who posted a quality stat line of 15 points, five assists, two rebounds and one steal in 25 minutes of play.
The timing of his production, however, is what really shines, outweighing any numbers that appear in the box score.
With the Thunder down 61-54 with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter, Martin had a hand in 10 of the team's final 14 points. K-Mart scored five points and dished out two assists, eventually cutting the lead to 65-63 with a jump shot.
Alongside Martin was the likes of Eric Maynor, Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet. The three combined for 14 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Thabeet himself had two rebounds, two steals and one block in just 12 minutes of play. All in all, the team defense played a phenomenal game.
Overall, OKC's second unit combined for 29 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks