The San Antonio Spurs opened the newly renovated AT&T Center for the regular season home opener Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets with a 102-75 win after a dominating second half. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for this contest so here are five thoughts I had while watching the play unfold, followed by a recap of a much better game from Friday night’s slate.
2) Brook Lopez is so skilled offensively and it is a shame to see him wasted on this odd Brooklyn team. You really have to wonder what he would’ve looked like in Oklahoma City had that trade rumor ever materialized. Also, Jarrett Jack is unwatchable at times.
3) Kawhi Leonard looks extremely confident offensively and has clearly worked on his post game and pull up jumpers off of dribble moves. He still takes one or two too many tough, long 2’s for my liking, but the confidence to even take those shots is really encouraging for his development.
4) Boban Marjanovic, the Spurs’ 7’3”, Serbian rookie, came in for the last few minutes and was a delight. He is a genuinely massive human being and the crowd took to him immediately. He looked lost a couple of times but ended up scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds in less than five minutes. Boban obviously isn’t in the regular rotation but he isn’t a bad option at the end of the bench and the players seem to absolutely love him based on their bench reactions every time he did something positive.
5) I have thought about the comparison between the Spurs passing and that of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona before, and while it is quite difficult to perfectly link the two philosophies, the comparison still seems apt. Both just move and move and move, both the players and the ball, until the defense relents. It is like it’s only a matter of time before they overcome a deficit or just put a team away. Their skill can suffocate a team’s will.
During breaks in the action at the AT&T Center Friday night I was checking Twitter for other basketball news, as I always do, and it seemed as though wild things were happening down in Orlando. Kevin Durant, Victor Oladipo and Russell Westbrook had all gone off while I was witnessing a blowout. Don’t get me wrong, I will never pass up an opportunity to watch an NBA game in person but I knew I needed to watch Orlando-OKC at some point. Saturday morning I fired it up on League Pass and well, it was an instant classic. Let's look back on it, game notes style.
- It’s always hard to judge how a new coach is doing this early in the season, but both of these teams have fresh leaders at the helm so it will be interesting to see if anything stands out.
- Speak of the devil, Orlando starts the game up 15-8 and OKC calls a timeout. Out of that timeout Billy Donovan drew up a really nice play to get Steven Adams a dunk.
- Victor Oladipo is a baller. He was everywhere to start the game and began 4-4 with nine early points.
- Orlando was on fire in the first quarter and OKC wasn’t shooting poorly either. Magic lead 35-31 after one.
- Aaron Gordon is the master of the put back dunk.
- Orlando’s second unit has some real defensive potential.
- Evan Fournier > Dion Waiters
- Orlando’s Amway Center has an ad on the sideline for something called Fan Duel. Has anyone ever heard of it?
- The Magic was rolling in that second quarter with Nik Vucevic (9-9 in the first half) as the offensive hub. He dominated Serge Ibaka for a stretch and generated good looks for others.
- Durant got going by getting to the free throw line a few times but that half belonged to Orlando as they lead 67-53 at the break.
- OKC with a very energetic start to the second half and a 13-2 run trimmed the lead down to six.
- Scott Skiles called a timeout and Orlando immediately put together a few good possessions to push the lead back to 16 with Fournier leading the way.
- OKC can’t get fully back in the game; Orlando held a 10-14 point lead for a solid nine minutes of the third.
- Awesome sequence to end the third with Dewayne Dedmon swatting Kyle Singler and Fournier finishing on the other end; Orlando up 93-75 after three.
- OKC opens the fourth with an all bench unit plus Durant, but they only trim a few points off the lead.
- Orlando has their starting group back out by the 7:00 mark but back to back dunks by Durant and Westbrook cut the lead to eight.
- Skiles really trying to get the best group out there for each possession by making plenty of personnel moves down the stretch.
- Westbrook with an incredible drive and finish with the foul to cut it to four, but he missed the free throw, 108-104 Orlando.
- OKC going with a Durant, Westbrook, Waiters, DJ Augustin and Enes Kanter lineup to finish the game.
- Augustin hits a three to cut the lead to one with 1:10 left.
- Both teams trade stops followed by Oladipo free throws to push Orlando’s lead to three.
- Westbrook gets a layup, Gordon makes two free throws and then Durant drills a three with 13.5 left, tie game.
- Oladipo isolates against Anthony Roberson on the next possession and hits a step back three with 3.9 left. OKC doesn’t have a timeout so Westbrook goes quickly and banks a three from nearly half court with 0.7 left. Unbelievable finish. The shot making down the stretch has been incredible.
- Westbrook opened the overtime with two buckets, the second a lovely floater which is just unfair.
- Russ scored again to make it a five-point game and seemingly gave his team control but Orlando strings a couple stops together and makes four free throws to make it a one-point game again.
- I liked Orlando’s decision not to foul when down one and a six second differential between the game clock and the shot clock, but Westbrook made them pay by hitting a jumper to go back up by three with 7.8 left.
- Oladipo clearly did not want this game to end. He canned an outrageous step back three at the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime.
- Orlando got to the line each of the first two possessions of this period but missed three of the four free throws.
- Westbrook hit yet another pull-up but just as OKC seemed to have control again Elfrid Payton got a couple of buckets to make it a two point game with 36.1 to play.
- Orlando got the stop they needed but Westbrook somehow snagged the offensive rebound and Steven Adams free throws pushed it back to four.
- Orlando got one more chance while only down three but OKC snuffed it out and held on for a 139-136 win to move to 2-0.