OKLAHOMA CITY — Dennis Schroder was mad at himself.
After a scoreless first half against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, searching of kinds and displaying indicators of frustration, he was attempting to discover some spark, one thing to ignite him. He is an emotional, temperamental participant, and it wasn’t simply the first half against the Spurs. It was the previous few video games, through which he wasn’t taking pictures nicely, wasn’t ending at the rim and, in his thoughts, wasn’t serving to his workforce.
“I let my workforce down the final couple video games,” Schroder mentioned. “I would like to learn the way to be offended each time.”
Schroder scored 19 factors in the Thunder’s 122-112 win over the Spurs — all in the second half — and did so in the sort of flurry that takes over a recreation and swings it dramatically in a single course.
His first bucket got here with 2:47 left in the third, a patented stutter-step floater in the paint over a leaping Spurs huge. A minute later, he pulled confidently from the wing, splashing a Three. A minute after that, he knifed to the rim, took some contact and completed a powerful layup. He slapped the ground in frustration, mentioned one thing to the official and was dinged with a technical. It was simply collateral harm to maintain the motor working sizzling. He capped the quarter with a driving layup at the buzzer, serving to flip a nine-point halftime deficit to a six-point lead heading to the fourth.
“I feel a lot of instances gamers can lose confidence,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan mentioned. “He does not — in any respect. He virtually will get irritated, he will get upset, he will get mad … in a great way.”
It was essential for the Thunder, on the heels of Thursday’s double-overtime basic against the Spurs that featured greater than 300 mixed factors, to get ancillary manufacturing. Paul George and Russell Westbrook weren’t completely on, and the menace of the Spurs catching fireplace loomed. The primary half was uneven, and with a fourth straight loss wanting an increasing number of probably, there was a determined want for a jolt.
The Thunder-Spurs recreation had every part a fan might ask for, together with two overtimes, 301 mixed factors, a 50-point particular person effort and a 20-20 triple-double.
As the cold-shooting nights pile up, the former MVP is popping up the warmth in different areas to maintain OKC in the hunt for the West’s No. 1 seed.
Schroder has been a revelation this season coming off the bench, restoring some order to a tried-and-true Thunder methodology of getting a dynamic second-unit scorer and creator to complement Westbrook. However the previous few video games had been tough, with him hitting simply 11-of-32 in a three-game shedding streak and 19-of-73 (26 %) in the earlier six video games. Schroder’s Three-point proportion had been slipping, his shot choice had been rising extra questionable, and never coincidentally, his scoring had been down. He felt like he was letting the workforce down.
“He wasn’t letting no person down,” Westbrook mentioned. “He’d missed photographs — that is regular, that is a a part of the recreation. Tonight he performed nicely, aggressive, made some photographs and was huge for us.”
Schroder typically performs the a part of complementing the foremost course, however he has the means to function. He units the desk for the total second unit, which, as a collective, produced on Saturday. Abdel Nader scored 15 on 6-of-6 taking pictures, and Patrick Patterson added 13, hitting Three-of-Three from Three.
“He didn’t have a nice first half,” Donovan mentioned of Schroder. “He actually got here out in the second half and positively performed a lot nearer to who he’s as a participant. I give him a lot of credit score as a result of that is a ability, a reward, to find a way to shift after halftime and, to your level, play in addition to he did offensively. Even at the finish of the third and to begin the fourth once we had our second unit in there, he did a nice job main that group.”
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Finally, the issues the Thunder do nicely — defend, rebound, defend — won out, as the Spurs turned the ball over, did not make each Three-pointer they took and could not get LaMarcus Aldridge on monitor (17 factors on Eight-of-14 taking pictures after scoring 56 on Thursday).
“They did not let me play,” Aldridge mentioned. “They doubled me in each approach. They got here from the baseline, from the prime — they only made certain the ball wasn’t in my arms.”
As the Thunder pulled away in the fourth, Schroder jumped a pick-and-pop cross supposed for Aldridge, pawing it away to begin a break. He bolted down the court docket, drawing Spurs defenders, and calmly dropped a beautiful, between-the-legs, no-look cross to a trailing Westbrook for a layup. It was flash and substance, anger and pleasure, and, greater than something, the punctuation on a wanted bounce-back for the Thunder.
Schroder has a possibility to construct on his sturdy efficiency in Oklahoma City’s subsequent recreation. That is not till Tuesday on the street against the Atlanta Hawks — in the metropolis the place Schroder spent the first 5 seasons of his NBA profession.