The San Antonio Spurs were seemingly headed toward ending a painful losing streak on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center.
But the trends that haunted the team for all of November reared its ugly head once again on the final day of the month, as San Antonio (6-16) dropped its ninth straight game in a 119-111 loss to the Thunder (9-13).
“The tenacity and purpose we had in the first half, it just dissipated in the second half,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “(The Thunder) were a good part of that, they did a good job.”
San Antonio led by as many as 20 right before halftime. Like the youthful Spurs, expectations for a young Thunder team have minimal this season. OKC’s deficit was understandable given the team was without it’s best player and an MVP-like talent in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was sidelined due to a hip injury.
And yet, this meant little to the Thunder in the second half. Rookie Jalen Williams led the second-half comeback, leaving the Spurs and Popovich for zero excuses as to what we wrong. Putting it all on “youth” is hardly reason.
“Forty-eight minutes is a long time,” Popovich said. “We’ve had a lot of good halves or two-and-a-half quarters and all that, but rarely do we put four quarters of fundamental, sound defense and offense together. Part of it (is being) a young team, but (the Thunder) are a young team too and they did it.”
There’s no doubt the Thunder are budding with impressive talent. Williams, who the Thunder selected No. 12 overall this past June, posted a career-high 27 points in the win while guard Josh Giddey, who OKC took No. 6 overall last season, tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds. Thunder standout forward Luguentz Dort has give the Spurs trouble in the past and kept it up on Wednesday with 23 points and four assists.
The Thunder made fewer 3s, committed more turnovers, had fewer assists and led by as many as eight. But even without Gilgeous-Alexander on the floor, this still wasn’t enough for the stumbling Spurs to secure a win against a team that is on a similar rebuilding trajectory.
The Spurs will look to end their losing woes when they host the New Orleans Pelicans for the second time this season on Friday.
You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7
Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on the Spurs? Click Here.
Follow Inside the Spurs on Twitter.
Follow Inside the Spurs on Facebook.