Russell Westbrook was totally lost on the final play of this game, leading to a wide open look for Tony Parker on the left wing that ripped the net as time expired to give the San Antonio Spurs an 86-84 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was that kind of night for the Thunder and Westbrook in their season opener.
Parker finished with 14 points and 11 assists and also made a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left that tied the game at 84.
The Thunder tried to get the ball to Kevin Durant on the next possession running him off screens set by Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka but Kawhi Leonard was lurking as the pass arrived and knocked the ball away giving the Spurs the chance to win it on the final possession.
Westbrook will get the most heat for this game and deservedly so. He shot 6-for-21 in the game, had five assists and six turnovers and completely lost Parker on the final possession.
Durant went 9-for-18 in the game, had 23 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Durant was noticeably trying to play more of a distributor role in the game and it led to some early turnovers for him.
The Thunder ran their pindown play with Durant and Westbrook that worked so well in last year’s Western Conference Finals on the last few possessions tonight. Durant didn’t get any touches though in this game.
The Thunder displayed some of the same problems they’ve had the past few years. Durant has to work so hard to get the ball and physical defense from someone like Stephen Jackson can make that very difficult for him.
Westbrook can do a better job of getting Durant touches but it’s the offensive sets too that are the problem. There just has to be easier ways to get the ball in Durant’s hands. It may even be the best option to use him bringing the ball up the court and as the pick-and-roll ball handler.
Kevin Martin made his Thunder debut tonight and was very solid. He scored 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 33 minutes. He made 3-of-6 threes, all four of his free throws and also had five assists. He was hesitant to look for his shot though and that’s something he can’t be moving forward this season.
Ibaka was looking for his shot a lot in this one and it was a struggle all night. He played 31 minutes, was 2-of-7 from the field and had just four points.
The Thunder shot 37.7 percent from the field in the game. They were only in it thanks to getting to the line 23 times, 12 offensive rebounds and getting hot from deep in the second half that included a 3-point shot at the end of the third quarter by Eric Maynor that was hoisted from well beyond halfcourt.
The Thunder didn’t have the luxury of playing this game with last year’s team. That all changed when they traded James Harden last weekend and it will take some time for this year’s team to gel.
They didn’t lose tonight because they didn’t have Harden. Westbrook can take less bad shots and turn the ball over less regardless of Harden’s presence.
We saw a lot of Thabo Sefolosha and Hasheem Thabeet tonight and no minutes for rookies Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb. This wasn’t surprising because Scott Brooks always favors veterans but this isn’t the Thunder team we will see all season.
Opening up the year on the road in San Antonio is not an easy thing to do. Combine that with the Thunder having so many new faces and it’s not surprising they lost. They played a pretty bad game actually and shouldn’t have even had this good of a chance to win it.
OKC won’t have to wait long to redeem themselves as they will play their home opener tomorrow night vs. the Portland Trail Blazers at 8 p.m. EST.