Both teams were scoring at a high level from the beginning. The Thunder were 55% from the field and 50% form three in the first quarter led by Danilo Gallinari who found his mark early shooting 2-3 from behind the arc. Also finding his stride in the early going was San Antonio’s LeMarcus Aldridge who shot a near-perfect 4 of 5 from the field and he wouldn’t slow down for the rest of the game.
The Thunder stuck to their game plan of forcing tough, non-paint two pointers on defense. Aldridge took complete advantage and racked up 19 first half points on tough contested jumpers outside of the lane. Nevertheless, the Thunder hung in strong thanks to a few key buckets from Chris Paul drawing fouls with his signature sweep through the arms of reaching defenders while also creating and knocking down open shots. Between Chris Paul’s 7 second-quarter points and the Thunder’s zero turnovers, OKC went into the half with a precarious 57-56 lead.
Things began to roll in the Spurs direction in the 3rd quarter behind a couple of key three pointers and a few Thunder missed opportunities. With LeMarcus Aldridge remaining consistent with a 9-point quarter on 5 of 7 shooting, the Thunder struggled to recover from losing its small margin of advantage.
The Thunder forced the Spurs to 17 of 39 on non-paint twos which is something the team would be proud of other than the fact that they also allowed 12 offensive rebounds and 18 points off of turnovers – all of which added up. Leading the Spurs was Aldridge who finished the contest with 39 points shooting a remarkable 19 of 23 from the field. For the Thunder, it was Danilo Gallinari who finished the game with 27 points and shot 5-6 from the 3-point line.
“We did some really good things offensively,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “The 3rd quarter for us was not a great quarter and I still think that we’ve gotten better in some areas but we could’ve contested a little bit better on Aldridge in certain situations and when we did come over to try to provide help on him, I thought they did a good job of moving the ball and they found shooters. So, it’s something that it was good to see us do that in the first half, but you have to, on the road, be able to do it for the full 48 minutes.”
The Thunder was able to withstand the endless barrage of mid-range jumpers from LeMarcus Aldridge until another offensive spark ignited for the Spurs in the second half. In the start of the third quarter, Trey Lyles knocked down two back-to-back threes coupled with a few key missed shots and turnovers from the Thunder to give the Spurs the lead that they would never look back from for the remaining two frames.
The clock was winding down to close out the first quarter. The Thunder had the ball for the final possession and the rock was is Chris Paul’s hands. Bringing the ball across half court, Paul surveyed the floor and slid off a ball screen only to pick up another help defender. With only seconds remaining, Paul stepped back over the outstretched hands of the defenders and let it fly as the horn sounded. Nothing but net.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 8, 2019
9 Thunder sixth man, Dennis Schröder played a key role in the Thunder’s ball movement on Friday. With nine assists, he led all Thunder players in the category dishing out six in the first half alone. Steven Adams chipped in three assists of his own while facilitating the offense at the top of the key.
“The players that we’ve got, it’s just a matter of time and working together. Game by game we’re getting better and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.” –forward Danilo Gallinari
“Obviously Gallo, Chris and Steven have got a lot of years under their belt, Dennis. But we’ve got a lot of young guys out there and its great experience for them to be able to go out there and play.”
-head coach Billy Donovan
The Thunder will take the lessons learned in the hostile AT&T Center back to the familiar confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena to take on the Golden State Warriors for the second time this season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.