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Friday, November 2nd, 2012 at 9:00 am  |  64 responses

Post Up: Battle Out West

Tony Parker and Tim Duncan lead the Spurs past OKC.

by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad

Spurs (2-0) 86, Thunder (0-1) 84

Wouldn’t it be great if the Spurs and Thunder played each other at least once a week?

The two teams matchup perfectly:

Parker vs. Westbrook

Leonard vs. Durant

Duncan vs. Ibaka / Perkins

It’s really a joy to watch and last night’s game proved to be another chapter in what’s becoming one of the better rivalries in the NBA. OKC got off to a quick start, using their speed and high volume scoring ability to jump out to an early lead against their hosts. With the San Antonio playing the second night of a back-to-back, it looked like it might have been a rout early on. But Coach Pop quickly got his guys in order and the Spurs responded, eventually tying the score and ensuring NBA fans watching at home that the one game of the night wouldn’t be a dud.

Over the next three quarters, the two teams traded blows with neither relenting and counter-punching with authority until an epic finish.

First Tim Duncan blocked a Kevin Durant dunk attempt:

Then Russ Westbrook hit TP with a quick spin and score:

Later on, Westbrook found his running mate for the nice alley-oop:

Then Duncan showed some spring in those 36-year old, well traveled legs and dunked on Serge Ibaka:

At the end of the third with the Thunder down 66-63, Eric Maynor nailed a 66-foot jumper to set the stage for a great fourth quarter:

After battling back and forth during the final quarter of play, Tony Parker took over and iced the game for the Spurs. Parker first hit a three-pointer that tied the game at 84 and on the next possession, TP caught Westbrook slippin’ and nailed an open shot from the wing for the win:

This season is gonna be fun, folks.

Quick Hitters:

– Westbrook finished with 18 points on 6-21 shooting, 5 assists and 6 turnovers. He also made a terrible play on the last possession that freed up Parker for the game-winning shot. Westbrook is always going to catch flack for not being a “pure point guard” but he’s too gifted not to have the ball in his hands. My suggestion (for what it’s worth): Give Maynor starter’s minutes at the point and play Westbrook off the ball and allow him more of a slasher role.

– Durant led the way with 23 points, 14 boards and 5 assists.

– James Harden’s opening night stat line: 37 points, 12 assists, 6 boards 4 steals. Kevin Martin’s: 15 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb’s: DNP.

– The most telling stat of the game: San Antonio’s 27 assists on 35 field goals.

– Over the first two games, Tim Duncan has turned back the clock and put together two masterful –performances. It will be interesting to see whether or not he can keep it up, though Pop will probably start to cut his minutes to preserve him for the Playoffs.

– When it’s all said and done, the Kawhi Leonard / Kevin Durant matchup may go down as one of the best ever. As the two continue to play each other and figure the other out, games will become more like a chess match with each trying to stay one move ahead of the other.

– Saw a lot of people on Twitter commenting on the Spurs new unis. I am not a fan.

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  • PippenAintEasy

    Modification of my comment on last time’s Post Up: The Spurs showed shades of their prime, 03-05, last night. Enjoy the original modern big three while they last.

  • Jahmai

    Entertaining game but I’m a little disappointed Brooks didn’t play Perry Jones III, he looked good (at times impressive) in preseason games and if Thabeet can get some minutes I wonder why I guy who has crazy potential (albeit potential) can’t get a little playing time. I also hope we get to see Jeremy Lamb play, this kid was the perfect Robin to Kemba’s Batman in 2011 at Uconn, a big reason they won the National Championship. The way he excels in a complimentary role makes me think he would fit in perfectly next to Russ and KD.
    It’s just the first game but I hope Scott Brooks shows some improvement when it comes to handling minutes and sorting out rotations this season, otherwise he’s wasting talent.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Besides today’s LeBron James, Tim Duncan is the best player since Michael Jordan. OKC is in trouble. Kevin Martin is not James Harden. You can’t replace your best playmaker with a scorer (when you already have 2 scorers) and think that you will still be just as good as you were before. Russell Westbrook has to be a playmaker now. There were some possessions that he had last night that just made me look away from the TV. Durant has to be the main scorer, Westbrook has to get he and Martin going and think to score only after he’s gotten his teammates involved. Reggie Miller…say what you will about his style, but he was dead-on with his critique of Westbrook during the game. Bad shots, bad passes, bad drives to the basket. He’s a top 10 talent, but if he doesn’t learn who the top dog is on that team, they’re not making it back to the Finals. Kenny and C-Webb tried to get Charles to understand that the Spurs are now a better team than OKC. People have only been talking about Martin’s scoring ability as if Harden was just a scorer for them. When he, Durant and Westbrook were on the floor, it was dangerous because Russell played mostly off the ball. Eric Maynor coming back isn’t the answer. Adding another scorer in Martin isn’t the answer. And Jeremy Lamb never touched the floor. It was one game, but if that’s how they’re going to play, they can’t beat Memphis, the Clippers, Lakers or Spurs in a series in my opinion. Westbrook can’t take as many or more shots than Durant. Just won’t work.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    No more comparisons need to be made between Westbrook and Rose unless people are talking about the two most athletic PGs to ever play. Other than that, Rose is a better basketball player. Much more polished. Less mental mistakes. More of a point guard able and willing to get his teammates the ball. If Russell would just control himself and pass the ball more, OKC would be a better team. Barkley made a nice comparison between Russell and Isiah Thomas last night.

  • ashish

    Wow Westbrook blew his defensive assignment by a mile on that last possession! Not even funny how lost he was.

  • hugo

    ‘they match up perfectly…leonard vs durant’ LOL

  • Buckets

    Tim Duncan has played excellent in these back-to-back games. Playing like an MVP. Him and Parker are a lethal combo.
    And you know what’s crazy? Manu Ginobili has yet to suit up this season…
    Coach Pop is superb.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Leonard vs Durant is a great matchup dude. Not an even matchup by any stretch. But it’s one of the league’s best defenders (5 steals for Leonard last night, 4 turnovers for Durant) vs the leagues 2nd best player.
    .
    In other words, it’s like Kobe vs Bruce Bowen. Except, this Bruce Bowen is just as athletic as this Kobe, and just as young.

  • BuenoWayno1

    I noticed a couple of times in the 4th quarter that KD was calling damn near PLEADING for the ball and Westbrook simply looked him off so he can take one ridiculous shot after another. Durant seems like a cool, mild mannered dude but i get the feeling that KD is going to choke the hell out of Rus one of these days.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i’m sure Perry Jones III is a little lost out there. And he hasn’t been in the NBA longer than 3 months, Thabeet is on year 3. Plus Thabeet has been in OKC since last season, he probably has a better grasp on their system.
    .
    As far as Lamb? —- Everyone needs to realize he’s not going to play much this year. There just aren’t enough minutes. Durant, Thabo, and Martin are obviously going to take up the vast majority of minutes. — Everyone’s excitement about Lamb was either misplaced, or reserved for the future.

  • Max

    How clutch has TP been thus far.
    First that three against NOLA, now a three to tie and a J to win the game.
    Sweeeet

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Cosign nbk. Leonard has been a beast on defense. Plus it doesn’t hurt that in the 2 games the Spurs have played he’s racked up 5 steals in each. I was worried about his shooting when he first got drafted cause there were all these reports about his form being off. Looks like the Spurs have done a great job with Kawhi.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Westbrook is doing what is asked of him. He just had a bad game. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions after last night.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    apparently the dude just lives in the gym. Pop said he’s the future face of the team. I am really high on him right now. Even though he’ll more than likely never be a consistent scorer.

  • Comment_System

    westbrook pissed me the hell off in this game. You can have a bad game but completely shutting off kevin martin in the first half? and then he gets pissed off and plays like even more of a dumb*ss. Yes the dude has skills, but it damn sure isnt at point. It throws the whole offene off and is one of the main reasons they lose games.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    I gave him a pass the past 2 seasons whenever he looked off Durant too soon and drove wildly to the basket or put up a bad jumpshot, but I saw it again last night. He can’t continue to do that this season if they want to win the West. Durant seems to be too nice to tell him to give him the ball especially in the 4th quarter, but someone needs to let him know that while he does need to score, his number one job is getting Durant the ball.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    yeah but do you know if what your saying is even right? I mean look,

    .
    Last season, through 57 games, if KD shot more than RW, OKC was 18-9 (66.7%). RW shoots more than KD? 21-5 (80.1%).

  • Peter Walsh

    yup

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    good write up today man.

  • LakeShow

    Reggie Miller would “Love the Kevin Martin pickup.”

  • Peter Walsh

    thanks man…tinkering w/ different stuff (i.e. “Quick Hitters”, heavy vid posts) to keep content fresh…let me know what you think works / what you dislike!

  • bike

    Agree. Martin isn’t even in the same league as Harden. Where Harden could be invaluable is when he would sub in for Westbrook when Russ goes all wack like he did last night. Harden was a key cog in their wheel and he will be missed by OKC greatly.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    uhm, i like all of it? lol – i just imagine it is extremely time consuming to do all of that, i assume it would take an entire day to do that when you have a schedule of games like tonight for example.

  • Peter Walsh

    oh yeah, it’s definitely tough…has gotta be up by 9 am too, so it’s usually an all-nighter…luckily I’m off weekends, ha!

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    well atleast you are up all night writing about something you like, and not that cat mayor or something like that. and i sure appreciate the hard work, as i’m sure many other’s do.

  • Datkid

    you’ve made some good poInts but I think you’re overreacting. And no, the spurs aren’t better than OKC.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Westbrook took a total of 3 shots outside 5 feet in the 4th quarter.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    If he’s going to shoot more, he needs to at least take good shots. Either at the basket or midrange. He put up an awful 3 point shot last night that clanked against the backboard after he thought he couldn’t get Durant the ball. Their offense won’t work the same in the 4th quarter with Harden now gone. It’s very predictable. If Russell has the ball and he can’t get it to Durant, he’s either going to shoot or barrel to the rim. He has to at least make sure that Durant gets more touches and opportunities to either score or put someone else in a position to score. That job used to be Harden’s. It’s now Russell’s. Their best shot would be to have Maynor in at the point and have Martin, Westbrook and Durant in there along with Ibaka if Russell is going to continue to look Kevin off.

  • Datkid

    Yes rose is more polished. But he also isn’t that much better of a passer or a player(even if he might be “more willing”) and is considerably more injury prone. And the thunder need Westbrook to be aggressive to take pressure off durant. if RW wasn’t playing the way Scott Brooks wanted him too, he’d bench him. Period. OKC played badly tonight and they won’t play that way every game. THEY WILL BE FINE.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Yes, they are. Ginobili didn’t even play and their offense looked much better than OKC’s. Much more fluid. Great shots. People are saying that the Thunder haven’t gotten used to Martin yet which is true. But even when they do, it won’t make too much of a difference. It will just be another scorer on the floor but who’s going to be distributing to the scorers if Russell won’t do it? James Harden was that guy.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i agree in principle. But you are blaming Westbrook, when this is Scott Brooks issue. He’s the one who decides what the Thunder do at the end of games. — And Durant really has to be better at getting himself open. he let Leonard dictate everywhere he went at the end of the game yesterday. But really, most of the issues you explained have to do with coaching and gameplanning, not on Westbrook making questionable decisions. — He really did shoot 7 shots in the 4th quarter yesterday, but only 3 of those were outside 5 feet. It’s not like he’s just jacking up shots. He’s forcing his way to the rim, their offense only features high pick and rolls, and the occasional down screen for Kevin Durant.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Rose had one bad season with injuries and now he’s injury prone? Russell hasn’t missed a game for injury yet. Rose played 81, 78 and 81 games in his first 3 seasons. And then last season happened. That doesn’t make him injury prone. Not after just one bad season with injuries. Being aggressive is one thing but playing wild is another. That’s not what they need. Rose is a much better basketball player in my opinion. If Westbrook was any less athletic than he is, he would be an average player. Rose, on the other hand, would still be a better shooter and a better decision maker even if he wasn’t as explosive as he is. If a healthy D-Rose was in place of Westbrook in OKC, the Thunder would be a better team right now.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    I put it on Sam Presti for trading Harden. Even if Russell still played out of control at times, Harden would pick up some of his slack with his style of play. They will miss him the most in the 4th quarter.

  • Datkid

    The spurs offense ALWAYS looks better than OKC’s lol. And part of the reason OKC’s offense looked worse is because they were playing terribly. They won’t always play like that lmao. Westbrook isn’t going 6-21 again. And he will distribute to the scorers, and even if he doesn’t? Eric mayor will. Your rushing to judgement after 1 game dog.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i agree, unless Maynor really is everything they are acting like he is.

  • LakeShow

    I also just noticed that Kevin Martin, and Thabo look exactly the same. Yet have polar opposite playing styles.

  • Datkid

    i never said he was greg oden but it’s a fact that he’s MORE injury prone than Russell Westbrook, who literally never get’s hurt. and Rose got hurt a couple of times his sophomore year and his mvp year too. He just played through it. It’s admirable but there’s no question that it limited him. This injury might significantly limit him as well AND I think rose is probably more likely to get injured than Westbrook. Yes Russell would be average if he were less athletic. but SO WOULD ROSE. rose would only really be slightly better. and no they wouldn’t be any better if the thunder had D.rose instead of RW because…. Rose’s legs don’t work correctly at the moment.

  • Anthony Dixon

    say this after the season.

  • Datkid

    plus right now Russell Westbrook is more efficient, and a slightly better defender, and rebounder.

  • Datkid

    I hope that changes though. it’d be cool if he were a 2 way beast for them.

  • Datkid

    Look Russell Westbrook and OKC didn’t play well. but it’s 1 game. I’m still taking them over basically everybody but the Lakers. and I’d still take Russ over Rose any day of the week even though it’s much more even than that in reality, (with a slight edge toward Russ.)

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he can still be a very good offensive player without being a big scorer. Look at Shawn Marion.

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    I have been blaming Brooks for three seasons. He really benefited from how horrible P.J. was, and how good Westbrook and Durant got through hard work. They have hidden the fact that he’s Vinny Del Negro in Cowboy boots.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    do you think Clay Bennett even realizes tho? I mean a lot of people who aren’t crazy (like us) don’t play close enough attention to even see that he’s the problem. Westbrook is a much easier scapegoat because he’s the one with the ball.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    How is Maynor going to do that when he’s not on the floor? Westbrook will have to step into Harden’s role as more of a playmaker than scorer. If he doesn’t, the Thunder won’t get to the Finals.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    How is Westbrook more efficient when he’s a career 43% shooter and Rose is a career 46% shooter?

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Again, Rose had one injury plagued season. “Rose’s legs don’t work correctly at the moment”…did you not see where I said that a healthy D-Rose would be better than Westbrook? Meaning, if Rose was 100% healthy, the Thunder would be better. Obviously, I didn’t mean today because everyone knows Rose isn’t playing. 81 games, 78 games, 81 games his first three seasons. Guys miss more games than that just to rest when they’re not hurt. Just because you think Rose is more likely to get hurt doesn’t make it a fact. Just your opinion. Rose is a better shooter. Better vision. Better passer. So if he couldn’t dunk on guys in the lane or blow past people, he would still be a good player. Better than average.

  • LakeShow

    You mean other way around? Big scorer but not very good offensively, is what I assume you mean. 18PPG or so being, “big scorer.”

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    the Spurs won an NBA championship in 2007 bruh.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Marion was good offensively, but wasn’t a big scorer. — I mean he didn’t really do anything but score and rebound, but he is a wing, that’s all you ask for (other than shooting). I meant what i said.

  • LakeShow

    Marion and Leonard are bad offensive players. They get buckets by being scrappy and quick. Leonard will never be a good offensive player imo. But I also don’t think Marion was ever a good offensive player. You can get 20 ppg in the right system if your scrappy and crafty.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Marion put up 21 a game on 52% shooting one season (and was still shooting 3.6 three-pointers a game). You can be a good offensive player without pretty skills.
    .
    you always mix up being good with being skilled.

  • LakeShow

    Yeah I guess I was thinking more about Marion the last 5 years. He was surprisingly good offensively for how ugly his game looked on that end of the floor when he was younger. I am just not as high on this Leonard kid as the rest of ya’ll are.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I really don’t blame you for that, I wasn’t this high on him till I watched a few preseason games
    .

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    People started discussing it last year somewhat. I’ve been discussing it for two or three years. When your team starts competing for rings, people start watching what you do. With expectations comes criticism. Westbrook is easier to blame, but everyone can see their sets are beyond basic.

  • LakeShow

    What was he doing that was so impressive?
    Just intelligence wise or physically?

  • Patrick

    No one mentioning the fact that there’s only 6 thunder players on the team from last year. Give them time to flow. Look at how well the stacked lakers are doing

  • The Seed

    Wheres KD fire is the question? Everyone will jump off the bandwagon by the time this season is over. I am a Rockets fan now too, Go HARDEN~!!!

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Well I knew he was capable physically from last season. But in the preseason he just seemed much more confident, and he was a more “involved” part of the offense. Seeing that and factoring in everything I was hearing about him, is what changed my perception.

  • Datkid

    and again he’s been naggily getting injured more and more every year since he’s been in the league. Just bc he wasn’t MISSING GAMES doesn’t mean he wasn’t injured it just means he was playing through it. and I say rose is more likely to get hurt because while Westbrook has literally never been injured. Rose has.Rose has more of a history of injury at this point that’s not an opinion. and Rose isn’t a better shooter. last year westbrook shot better than or the sam as him from literally everywhere on the floor 46/32/82 vs 43/31/81 Westbrook makes mental mistakes sure, and rose is more under control but the difference in their passing ability is negligible. There’s no clear proof that rose is actually significantly better than westbrook. none at all. Yes Westbrook played badly, but so did everyone else. This loss isn’t just on him.

  • Datkid

    and I don’t know why you’re repeating yourself with the “if they both didn’t have athleticism” argument. I already agreed with you that rose would be better if both lost their athletic prowess. But let’s keep it 100 here. They would both just be mediocre NBA players. Derrick Rose doesn’t do anything so well that he’d be good without his superior athleticism.

  • Datkid

    you think they won’t just put mayor in and slide RW to the 2 whenever things get to out of hand? and I think you’re underrating RW’s playmaking skills a lot here lol

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Has it ever occurred to you that Rose puts more of a toll on his body because he has to carry an offense? Whereas Westbrook is playing with the best scorer in the league who’s also the 2nd best player in the league? It makes a difference. And with that, Rose has only had 1 season where injuries nagged him until the ACL tear. He’s definitely not injury prone. Just had one unfortunate season.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    No, not underrating his playmaking skills at all. I’ve just watched him play since he was at UCLA. Everyone knows what his instincts are. Unless Maynor is a lot better than he’s shown himself to be thus far in his career, I don’t see him making too much of a difference and whatever he does, he definitely won’t replace James Harden

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