San Antonio Spurs News

Spurs Find Formula To Solve Russell Westbrook

By Ryan McCallum

Just as Dallas snapped the Spurs’ three-game winning streak a night before, San Antonio paid it forward in dominating fashion by ending the Thunder’s four-game run. A complete dismantling of Oklahoma City was witnessed by 18,581 in the friendly confines of the AT&T Center.

It isn’t surprising that the 130 point effort was the Spurs’ highest scoring game of the season. And it could have been a lot worse.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook, had been scoring nearly 33 points a night in this recent push to make the playoffs. Against San Antonio, he was held to just 16 points on 31% shooting. His seven assists did, however lead all players. After the game Westbrook explained, “They just wanted it more. They played with a sense of urgency, and we didn’t.” Westbrook was pulled in the third quarter after San Antonio pushed their lead to 30.

The Spurs found the formula for stopping Westbrook, and perhaps knew it all along. By putting a variety of defenders on the guard his offense was slowed, inconsistent, and ineffective. Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard all had turns covering the OKC star. The fact that the Thunder are now without Kevin Durant, and maybe more importantly Serge Ibaka, will hurt them in a major way in the playoffs- should they make it. Opponents can stay fresh by putting a bigger, athletic, defender on Westbrook, and force him to the right.

The real instigator last night was Boris Diaw with a sneaky 19 points. He was either able to glide past defenders to the rim, or power his way, seemingly at will. This performance truly highlighted the versatility and value of Diaw to this offense.

Of course, I have to mention Tim Duncan’s three pointer in the third quarter. He is now two-of-seven on the year.

Coach Popovich again kept his starter’s minutes low. None of the starters broke the 30 minute barrier.

So, a great game for San Antonio, and a horrendous one for OKC. The Spurs have been on the other side of this coin multiple times this season, so outside of proving the defensive scheme against Westbrook, don’t put too much into this win. You wouldn’t declare the season over if the Spurs were blown out in the game.

I actually admire the tenacity and hopefulness of the OKC fans. In the cheap seats, where I was, the Thunder fan to my left said, “We just have to foul smart, get back in it.” The Thunder were down by 44 at the time.

San Antonio has a revenge game against Dallas on Friday night.

Next: San Antonio Spurs Playoff Picture Is Clear