After returning from a five-game road trip, the San Antonio Spurs started a seven-game home stand with a dud. The Oklahoma City Thunder came to town and crushed the Spurs by a final score of 140-114.
The matchup between 2023-24 Rookie of the Year favorites Victor Wembanyama (24 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocks) and Chet Holmgren (17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks) lived up to the hype. The matchup between the two teams ended up being a one-sided affair, unfortunately.
Oklahoma City grabbed control of the game near the end of the first quarter and slowly but surely expanded their advantage from there. San Antonio had some highlights along the way but the end result was a blowout loss that stopped being competitive at some point in the third quarter.
Stats: Spurs vs. Thunder
Spurs vs. Thunder – Final Grades
The Spurs got smashed but it wasn’t Wembanyama’s fault. The star rookie played with a chip on his shoulder going against fellow rookie Chet Holmgren and was able to remain effective throughout the game. His physicality was two or three levels higher than usual as he poured in 24 points in 28 minutes. Wembanyama also passed the ball really well, rebounded with determination and was emphatically erasing irrational attempts at the rim. Sure, San Antonio ended up losing by a lot … but it was fun to see Wembanyama play with even more fire than normal.
Vassell’s shot-selection appeared to be too ambitious but he ended up 9-for-14 from the field so any complaints in that area can be ignored. He also handed out a team-high seven assists. Vassell now has 16 assists and only one turnover in his last two games. His passing — particularly to Wembanyama — has gotten much, much better recently. Defensively, Vassell could have done more. His effort in the second half was limited, to put it kindly.
Sochan had a forgettable affair. He missed all but one of his seven field goal attempts. His three-point attempts, which had looked relatively smooth lately, weren’t even close. Sochan had a couple positive defensive possessions but he was usually ineffective on that end. Moreover, he had a couple rebounds bounce off his fingertips and he missed a few open teammates.
Filling in for the injured Tre Jones, Wesley did pretty well as the team’s starting point guard. Defensively, he was arguably San Antonio’s best player on that end outside of Wembanyama. He made mistakes on D but the effort was there and he applied a healthy amount of pressure. Offensively, Wesley was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and knocked down his first three-pointer of the season (he’s now 1-for-14 from three-point range). He didn’t handle a ton of the playmaking but he had some positive moments in the passing game. Wesley had a team-high four turnovers and hesitated too often … but he did about as well as could have fairly been expected.
Champagnie’s presence helped spread the court on offense even though he knocked down only 1-of-5 three-point tries. The Thunder obviously came into the game respecting his jumper. Unfortunately, Champagnie also authored some of the lowest of the lows on the defensive end. A few times he was so slow to react that he angered his teammates.
The good: Branham responded well after getting a DNP-CD in the last game. He was adequately aggressive on offense and ended up scoring 11 points on five shots. He also avoided turning the ball over even though he was handling more than his fair share of dribbling and passing. The bad: Branham’s defense was really underwhelming. He had trouble keeping anyone in front of him and he easily got bumped out of the way when the Thunder went at him.
Johnson failed to make his usual impact from off the bench. Offensively, he was rushing when he got the ball and that turned him into a ball-stopper. Most of the time this season, he’s been really good about picking his spots — but that wasn’t the case tonight. Even worse than his offense was Johnson’s defense. He was mostly going through the motions and rarely offered any help on the boards.
Collins’ stats look decent but he was definitely a big part of the problem on Wednesday night. His inability to hold down the fort when Wembanyama was on the bench was a main reason why this ballgame turned into a laugher. Collins was extremely weak rebounding-wise and his defense as a whole was poor. His offense was a bit better than his defense but I wouldn’t label him an asset on that end either. Collins was too often in the way and could usually be found trying to do too much.
McDermott got out of control at times but he was one of the few Spurs who played with an appropriate amount of energy. Offensively, his movement without the ball created space for himself and others. His shot-selection was good and he also made some heady passes. Defensively, McDermott wasn’t good but he was also far from the weakest link on that end.
Osman tried to make things happen by pushing the pace and playing with force. On offense, that strategy worked. He scored nine points in 14 minutes and limited his mistakes. Defensively, Osman didn’t hold up nearly as well. His rotations were a step slow and he sometimes got lost. To be fair, though, the defense as a whole was playing so erratically that it was understandable that Osman was confused.
Mamukelashvili hit a couple shots during garbage time long after the game was over.
Graham was the garbage time point guard and hit one of his two three-point attempts.
Welp, Pop can’t be happy with how the defense performed. Even though the Thunder were on the second night of a back-to-back, they made San Antonio’s defense look like it was amateur hour at the Frost Bank Center. Pop has to take some of the blame for the D looking so bad. Other than poor three-point shooting, the offensive attack was mostly good enough — although the team definitely lacked its typical level of cohesion. Rotation-wise, I liked that Pop went with Wesley in the starting lineup. However, more tinkering could have been helpful with the bench unit playing so flat.