SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The Oklahoma City Thunder were still embarrassed, shocked, frustrated and angry the morning after a horrendous loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their series opener.
“All the negative ones you can think of,” Oklahoma City center Stephen Adams said of the collective mood. “That’s exactly what the whole team’s feeling, but then you have your little tantrum and then you just get over it. You’ve just got to let it go, learn from it.”
A new day brought a rather obvious realization to the Thunder as they prepared for Game 2 on Monday. Oklahoma City must play a whole lot better if they want to rebound from Saturday night’s 124-92 defeat to San Antonio.
Adams said it was “eerie” watching Game 1 of their second-round series prior to Sunday morning’s practice.
The Thunder watched the Spurs essentially score at will, shooting 61 percent from the field and handing out 39 assists.
San Antonio had 18 fastbreak points, were 9 for 15 on 3-pointers and LaMarcus Aldridge’s 32 points primarily came off mid-range jumpers on pick-and-pop plays with Tony Parker.
Oklahoma City was a step behind defensively throughout Game 1, but Thunder superstar Kevin Durant dismissed the notion it was due to a lack of effort.
“I don’t think it was an issue of us playing harder,” Durant said. “I think what they did is they put us in some tough situations on the defensive end. Everybody was ready, everybody is ready to play in this game. The score definitely didn’t say that, but it wasn’t like everybody came into the game not caring.”
Aldridge shot 18 for 23 from the field, with nearly half his jumpers going uncontested as Oklahoma City failed to switch. Adams said better communication on defensive switches is critical in Game 2.
“There was a lot of communication issues, (it was) so loud, bro,” Adams said. “It was just hard for us to get the guards in position for us to do the coverage because they couldn’t hear us. It was just way too loud, but we’ve got to somehow start speaking (with more base), I guess. I don’t know. Try to figure it out.”
Parker took advantage, handing out 12 assists with only one turnover as the Spurs came within eight points of matching the franchise’s highest postseason production.
“Tony played a great floor game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “He got us into the sets we wanted to be in and generated a lot of offense for us.”
San Antonio’s defense sparked their offensive output, beginning with Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Leonard was able to sprint downcourt for breakaway dunks and layups off the Thunder’s missed shots.
“I thought a couple of times late when we did get back to take (Leonard) away,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said. “(But) I thought they did a really good job of finding Green and he knocked down some 3s.”
Defensively, the Spurs‘ duo helped limit Durant and Russell Westbrook to 11-for-34 shooting.
“Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are so great at funneling you to the help,” Durant said. “They do a good job of funneling you to the bigs and make you to try to finish over the top.”
San Antonio blocked 10 shots and altered countless other shots. Oklahoma City was 35 for 85 from the field and just 6 for 23 on 3-pointers.
“There are lot of things that we needed to do better than we did,” Donovan said. “I’m not taking anything from the Spurs because they played very, very well. Obviously they handed us a large, large defeat but the reality is we’ve got to pick ourselves up and get back to trying to figure out what we’ve got to do to get better.”
While Oklahoma City knows it must play better, Durant is also aware San Antonio has too much respect for the Thunder to coast in Game 2.
“The key for us is to match their energy tomorrow because obviously they are going to play harder and try to pressure us and try to deny everything,” Parker said. “Just try to be extra focused because it’s human nature to have a letdown and you just have to fight that.”