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News » Spurs school Thunder in Austin

Spurs school Thunder in Austin

Spurs school Thunder in Austin AUSTIN, Texas - What unfolded Tuesday night at the Frank Erwin Center was a reminder. One that, despite all the preseason hype about Oklahoma City's future, left us realizing we're stuck with the here and now.

For the Thunder , here is quickly proving to be far from finished.

Thunder fans can thank San Antonio for jogging their memories with a dominating 119-102 win on the campus of the University of Texas. By the final buzzer, there was no doubt just how wide the gap is between a maturing Thunder team and a ready-made Spurs squad.

Perhaps best illustrating that divide was a subtle but significant difference in strategy between Thunder coach Scott Brooks and Spurs skipper Gregg Popovich.

Brooks called plays all night, signaling for adjustments and barking instructions in from the sideline to point guard Russell Westbrook. Popovich rarely left the bench at the other end, instead allowing point guard Tony Parker to set up the offense and run whatever plays he saw fit.

The results were shocking considering the two approaches, as the Spurs executed their offense to near perfection while the Thunder struggled to read and react to Parker's free-wheeling direction.

San Antonio shot 56.8 percent from the field and made 14 of 19 (73.7 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Michael Finley, Matt Bonner and Richard Jefferson were a combined 10-for-10 from deep.

"We look at a team like that as where we want to be," said Jeff Green, who finished with a game-high 24 points. "They play together, they win together and they fight. That's where we're headed."

With just one more tune-up game before the start of the regular season, however, the Thunder's defense seems to be regressing. In its past three games, Oklahoma City has given up 49.3 percent shooting to Miami, 51.4 percent to Houston and Tuesday's preseason-high total to San Antonio.

The easy excuse would be to reason that it's only the preseason and the kinks will be ironed out once the games count and the starters are playing their usual minutes. But, with the exception of Nick Collison, Brooks played most of what will be his primary rotation against San Antonio's regulars. Still, there were blown assignments, and it appears to be turning into a trend.

"The season's started right now for us," said Shaun Livingston. "It might not start for that team over there. Those guys come in here trying to get their wind in shape. They might be able to do that. We can't. We're not that team yet. We need to get better."

Kevin Durant, who finished with 23 points and nine rebounds in his return to his alma mater, said he was confident his team will bounce back and show the same resiliency it showed several nights in the second half of last season.

"I think we're ready," Durant said. "We're anxious to get the season started. These preseason games really showed us who we are as a group, and I think guys have worked hard and every night we step on the floor we get better."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 23, 2009


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