Grades: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – Game #60

The San Antonio Spurs notched one of their best wins of the season on Thursday night — if not the very best. Against a red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder squad, the Spurs delivered when it mattered most to get a thrilling 132-118 victory.

Following a back and forth first quarter, the score was tied 37-37. San Antonio got going in the second quarter and took a 69-64 lead into halftime. The Spurs were doing well for much of the third quarter but the Thunder started a charge late in the period. A 94-82 advantage for the good guys with 3:45 remaining in the third turned into a 100-98 Thunder lead with 10:45 to go in the fourth quarter. 

But instead of folding, the Spurs continued to battle and go toe-to-toe. Up 116-113 with 4:39 remaining in regulation, San Antonio was able to finish off OKC thanks to a barrage of big shots — highlighted by a pair of Victor Wembanyama three-pointers. After a Wembanyama three put the Spurs up 127-118 with 2:10 left, the rookie put an exclamation point on the game by emphatically blocking fellow rookie Chet Holmgren on the other end.

All in all, it was obviously a great win. In their first game back from the Rodeo Road Trip, the Spurs played a winning brand of basketball. They took care of the ball, dished out a season-high 39 assists and buried 19-of-39 three-pointers. Let’s hope we’re able to witness more games like this one during the stretch run of the season.

Stats: Spurs vs. Thunder

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Spurs vs. Thunder – Final Grades

Victor Wembanyama

It was another magnificent performance by Wembanyama. In 32 minutes, he totaled 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and two steals. He was 9-for-17 from the field, including 5-of-7 from three-point land. His ferocity level always rises when he sees Chet Holmgren — and tonight was no different. Wembanyama played with a chip on his shoulder and was great in just about every facet of the game. I loved how he did a much better job of taking care of the ball and how he played his best when the pressure was the highest. Wembanyama looked like a fully formed superstar down the stretch. From cold-blooded threes to slick passes, and from stellar rim protection to lightning quick perimeter defense, this kid was doing it all.

Grade: A+

Devin Vassell

Vassell had a very good game. His shot-selection wasn’t the best and he had a handful of mistakes on defense but he too delivered when it mattered most. Vassell hit a few timely shots and led the way with a team-high nine assists. His playmaking wasn’t quite as great as that number may suggest — but he was making the right passes at the right times. Vassell’s connection with Wembanyama is getting tighter by the week and his decision-making is on the upswing. It’s also great to see how much confidence he is beginning to play with on a nightly basis. Vassell can be really good — and he’s starting to play like he realizes that.

Grade: A-

Jeremy Sochan

After a pair of forgettable outings, Sochan bounced back in fine fashion. Defensively, his effort was really good. The Thunder have a ton of talent but Sochan was able to disrupt their flow during a number of possessions. He also rebounded really well. Offensively, everything looked better. He shot with confidence and hit half of his six three-point tries. He attacked the rim with purpose. In the fourth quarter, he authored notable plays by remaining aggressive and kept things on the winning track for the good guys. Sure, Sochan had a couple of questionable decisions here and there — but when he plays like he did on Thursday night, he’s unquestionably an asset.

Grade: A-

Tre Jones

Jones uncharacteristically turned the ball over six times in his previous outing. Tonight he was back to being the mistake-free player we know and love. It didn’t seem like he made a poor passing decision all night long. He was getting the ball to the right players at the right moments. Scoring-wise, his aggression was better. He hit 3-of-5 three-pointers, including a momentous one in the fourth quarter. His penetration was more purposeful and his pushing of the pace was more relentless. Defensively, he played with vigor and didn’t back down from any challenge he faced.

Grade: A

Julian Champagnie

Champagnie started and played 19 minutes. He made a three-pointer and sank all three freebies after getting fouled on another three-point attempt. Defensively, he was having a difficult time. The effort was there, he just didn’t have the athleticism or strength to deal with the Thunder’s star perimeter talent. All in all, Champagnie could have done better but wasn’t a notable liability.

Grade: C+

Keldon Johnson

The good: Johnson shot three-pointers with confidence. Since getting benched a couple games ago, Johnson has come back firing threes whenever possible. His passing was above average and he only turned it over once in 31 minutes even though he was in the middle of the chaos most of the time. The bad: I’d like Johnson to mix in more powerful drives. He’s at his best when he’s getting to the rim and forcing his way to the free throw line. Defensively, I wouldn’t classify Johnson’s play as good because he had more than his fair share of mistakes — but he at least avoided catastrophic miscues that could have sent him back to the pine.

Grade: B-

Malaki Branham

Branham is getting another crack at playing some point guard. I can’t say I was too impressed. He had a couple of ugly mistakes, looked nervous with the ball in his hands and didn’t do much tangible playmaking. To his credit, Branham provided some value by scoring under pressure, handling part of the ball-handling duties and trying a lot harder on defense than usual.

Grade: C

Zach Collins

Okay, yeah, this is the version of Collins who is legitimately one of the best backup centers in the NBA. In his 16 minutes of play against the Thunder, he was stupendously productive. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor. Defensively, he was more active and less earthbound. Offensively, Collins did a lot. His passing was very good, he was productive in the low post, he knocked down a three-pointer and stayed within the offensive sets. This was a good reminder that Collins has it in him to be a high-quality backup to Wembanyama. He himself probably needed this reminder, too.

Grade: A 

Cedi Osman

Osman played with a palpable amount of electricity but I can’t confidently say it was helping his team. He had some good passes but he also had a handful of forced passes. Osman had some positive plays on defense but he was also fouling a lot and finding himself out of position. Slowing down and playing a little bit smarter would likely help his team.

Grade: C-

Blake Wesley

Wesley’s grasp on the backup point guard job is slipping. He played only five minutes against OKC and turned it over twice. For a team actively looking to trim their turnover count, that’s not going to get it done. We’ll see if Wesley is given another chance or if Branham will get the job going forward.

Grade: D+

Pop

Good stuff from Pop. The playcalling made sure Wembanyama remained involved. The defensive gameplan kept OKC guessing. The rotation felt a lot more rational. I actually prefer the nine-man rotation to a ten-man rotation, especially when the Spurs are trying to limit turnovers and build continuity. 

Grade: B+