The San Antonio Spurs got blown out of the water once again in their loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 123-87 defeat dropped San Antonio’s record on the season to 3-8.
Things actually started out rather well for the Spurs. With their defense doing the heavy lifting, the good guys battled the Thunder fiercely in the first half. A Devin Vassell jumper with 2:47 remaining in the first half put the Spurs up by three points. Unfortunately, that’s the exact moment the wheels fell off.
To close out the first half, OKC went on a 13-0 run. To start the second half, it turned into a 19-0 run and then expanded to a 28-2 run that essentially ended the game.
All in all, this definitely classifies as a disappointing loss — even though the Spurs were short-handed playing without Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones. The complete and utter collapse was disheartening. The Spurs ended up turning it over 24 times, while an aggressive Thunder squad swiped 19 steals. To make matters worse, the passive Spurs only got to the free throw line nine times and were weak in transition defense.
Stats: Spurs at Thunder
Spurs at Thunder – Final Grades
The good: Wembanyama was really strong on the boards. He used his length to gobble up anything in his fly zone. The rookie also ran the court hard and I was impressed with his defense in the first half. The bad: Wembanyama was only 4-for-15 from the field. He missed some open shots and also rushed a few looks that he didn’t need to rush. His second half defense was uninspiring. Wembanyama’s biggest fault, though, was his sloppiness. His passes weren’t on target, he tried to dribble in traffic too often and was simply not sharp and decisive enough in his decision-making.
Vassell’s tough shot making in the first half kept the Spurs afloat. At halftime, he had 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. His defense was also stout in the first two quarters. Unfortunately, things fell apart in the second half for Vassell. He was 0-for-4 from the field and tried to force the issue too much on that end. On the other end, his defensive effort derailed as the game slipped away.
With no Tre Jones around to help at point guard, the Thunder’s strategy was to harass Sochan as much as possible. That strategy worked. Sochan struggled to handle the ball and rarely got the team into their offensive sets in a timely manner. His frustration grew more palpable as the game progressed. Sochan had a few good buckets, authored a few smart passes and played solid defense during a number of possessions — but his outing was marred by his inability to handle the basics of the point guard position. As his frustration on offense grew, his focus on defense waned — to the point that his transition defense suffered greatly.
With the Thunder pressing so much and flying around on the perimeter, it would have been nice for Collins to step up as an inside presence to make Oklahoma City pay for their outside pressure. That didn’t really happen, unfortunately. Collins was mostly quiet and rarely looked to assert himself on the interior. His passing was poor and he turned it over four times. Defensively, he was rarely a difference-maker.
On paper, Champagnie’s final numbers look intriguing. In reality, though, Champagnie’s outing was forgettable. He was 4-for-14 from the field and 3-for-7 on three-pointers but three of his baskets came during garbage time in the fourth quarter. He also totaled four steals and three blocks but a few of those were due to him being forced to make a play because he was out of position. Champagnie’s defense was decent but he had as many mistakes as positive plays. Overall, I hope he can get back on track but this performance against OKC didn’t really move the needle.
The good: Branham had a handful of slick moves going to the basket. His midrange jumpers are buttery smooth right now. The bad: Like Sochan, Branham’s ball-handling and playmaking fizzled in the face of the Thunder’s pressure. He also missed all four of his three-pointers. Most alarmingly, Branham’s low release point was an issue against Oklahoma City’s athleticism, as he got his shots bothered multiple times.
McDermott is supposed to be a steadying influence but he might have actually been San Antonio’s most spastic player on this night. He turned it over four times in 18 minutes and it was impossible for him to string two positive offensive possessions in a row. McDermott was also a clear liability on defense.
Bassey was fine. He rebounded really well and was active in the paint on both ends of the court. He was one of the few Spurs players who exhibited consistent effort on this dreary evening. That said, Bassey’s perimeter defense was lacking and the Thunder made him pay on multiple occasions for losing track of his man.
Graham only scored four points and didn’t do much notable on the defensive end. However, when he was on the court, it was like night and day in terms of point guard play. Having an experienced point guard like Graham running the show actually allowed the Spurs to run their sets properly. The Thunder’s press was also not nearly as impactful when Graham was orchestrating the show.
Osman hit two of his five three-point attempts but didn’t do much else on either end of the court. On offense, he could have forced the issue a bit more than he did. Osman was too willing to bring the ball back out instead of attacking the Thunder. Defensively, he had a few moments but he was mostly playing at the same sub par level as most of his teammates.
Barlow got five minutes of action during garbage time but didn’t do anything worth writing about.
Some of the other blowout losses this year were understandable. This one really wasn’t. The effort level wasn’t there during and after the collapse — and some of that lands on Pop’s shoulders. He never truly adjusted to the Thunder’s pressure defense tactics and the offense was a mess, particularly in the second half. Defensively, there were way too many nonchalant plays by the Silver and Black.