SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 23-point first half deficit to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-101 at the AT&T Center on Friday night.
The victory was arguably the best of the season for the Silver and Black, who used a total team effort to get the win. San Antonio got key contributions from their bench and role players including a huge night from reserve Davis Bertans.
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs on Friday as well as four standout players: LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, and Davis Bertans.
- The Spurs got the win after getting in a 23-point hole, but the key was getting everyone involved. This is likely a season turning win as it shows Coach Pop that his team can compete with a high caliber team like the Thunder without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker.
- San Antonio had just three turnovers in the second half after committing 10 in the first half.
- Ball movement was key to the comeback for San Antonio. They constantly fed Aldridge and Pau Gasol, who waited for the Thunder to bring the double team before passing it out.
- Manu Ginobili took his grandpa juice at halftime.
- Ginobili committed a team-high six turnovers in the game, with five coming in the first half.
- San Antonio played possibility their worst first quarter of the season, shooting just 30 percent and scoring a season-low 15 points in the period.
- San Antonio is still struggling to find consistent offense without Leonard and Parker, meaning they continue a trend of starting games slow and somewhat out of sync.
- The Spurs struggled to rebound the ball in key moments of the game. San Antonio may have won the rebounding battle 44-41, but the Thunder had the slim 13-12 offensive rebounds edge. Two key times the Silver and Black failed to get the ball back were on free throws from Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in the fourth quarter with the Spurs holding a slim five point lead.
Three Standout Players:
LaMarcus Aldridge: The Spurs forward put the team on his back once again with Leonard out. Aldridge led the Silver and Black with 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting while pulling down nine rebounds. The key to the comeback was the Spurs feeding Aldridge in the post. When the Thunder put Paul George on him it was a feast for LMA in the paint, who drew the foul and got to the basket with ease.
However, when OKC switched center Steven Adams on Aldridge, he waited for the double team to come and found the open man. Aldridge’s lone assist came on a Danny Green three-pointer that cut the deficit to eight points. If Aldridge can continue this high level of play when Parker and Leonard return from injury, the Spurs will be a massive contender in a stacked Western Conference.
Danny Green: The Spurs shooting guard got it done on both ends of the floor on Friday and finished with a nice stat line. Green finished with 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting, went 5-of-13 from three point range, six rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
Green was red hot from beyond the arc in the first half, hitting all from of his three-point attempts. His play saw the Spurs cut a 23-point deficit to just seven going into the locker room. Green’s showed why he was on the NBA All-Defense team last season as he stripped Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the second half. The former North Carolina Tarheel also dished out some big assists to Aldridge, Gasol, and Kyle Anderson for buckets. If Green can starting playing at this level on a consistent basis, San Antonio may be able to hold the fort down longer than expected until Leonard returns.
Kyle Anderson: Kyle Anderson continues to show his growth and continues to have the best season of his career. Anderson finished with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 31 minutes.
We all know Pop has trust in Anderson because he is Leonard’s backup and has gotten the starting nod in his place this season. However, Friday night showed exactly why Pop has put trust in the former UCLA Bruin: Pop let Anderson run the offense during the comeback. Anderson got the guys into their spots, feeding Aldridge, making the extra pass to the open man, and drove the paint to kick to the corner to an open Green or Mills. Not only does Anderson have a high basketball IQ, but his improved play another weapon to a very dangerous and deep San Antonio squad.
Davis Bertans: With the Spurs down 36-17 in the second quarter and his team looking for some kind of spark, Pop inserted second year man Davis Bertans. The move paid off as Bertans lit a fire under the Silver and Black in front of a extremely loud home crowd.
Bertans finished with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting in 10 minutes. With the Spurs being such a deep team, Bertans is the odd man out in Pop’s rotation. However, Friday proved that no matter when he is called on, he is ready to deliver.
Special Mention – Pau Gasol: The legendary NBA center finished with 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds. Gasol and Aldridge in the paint together were two key members holding down the fort against OKC’s Adams and Patrick Patterson.
Up next: The Spurs are now 10-6 on the season and will return to the court on Monday when they welcome the Atlanta Hawks to the AT&T Center at 7 p.m.