Hack-A-Splitter Changes Game 2’s Pace

SAN ANTONIO – The Thunder couldn’t stop Tony Parker, couldn’t slow the early perimeter contributions of Danny Green and couldn’t stop the Spurs in general, not with San Antonio at 57.9 percent from the field the first half.

So, the Thunder went with something new: not trying to stop Tiago Splitter from scoring.

On four consecutive possessions in the third quarter Tuesday night, Oklahoma City intentionally fouled Splitter away from the ball. They purposely sent the San Antonio backup big man to the line in hopes his 32 percent from the free throw line in the playoffs would help OKC get back in the game.

Splitter would not oblige — he made four of the eight attempts, earning a louder and louder ovation from fans inside AT&T Center with each make, the final one with 1:38 left in the period practically as if he hit a half-court heave at the buzzer. The Spurs lead during the span of Hack-a-Splitter stayed at 16 and, in fact, went up to 18 in the final minute of the third.

When the Thunder climbed back in the game early in the fourth quarter, though, the strategy by coach Scott Brooks had indirectly paid off. Even without additional intentional fouls on Splitter, and several minutes after the approach ceased, the flow changed.

“It changed the tempo a little bit,” Brooks said. “They (the Spurs) were fast tonight. That ball was just all over the floor with quick passes, passes that were right in their shooting pockets, and it kind of threw their rhythm out a little bit. He stepped up and made six of them (including another trip to the line that was not away from the ball). He did better than his playoff percentage. But if on occasion we have an opportunity to do it again, we will.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said “maybe” the strategy had a role in the Thunder getting back in the game.

“It was a good move,” he added. “I might have done it.”

Someone asked if he ever had gone there.

“No, I’ve never done that before,” Popovich deadpanned. “I think it’s a lousy thing to do. It’s unsportsmanlike.”

Some of the reporters in the postgame news conference busted up. Of course he had done it before. The Spurs deployed the strategy all of one series ago, against Reggie Evans of the Clippers and used it in the past against Shaquille O’Neal.

“No,” Popovich said by way of correcting himself, “it’s a good move. If there’s a reason to do it and they felt there was a reason to do it, they did it. It’s a good move.”


22 Comments

  1. AusFan says:

    Come on people! We’re missing the most obvious name for this tactic. Hit-a-Spltter!

  2. Ryan says:

    Sound like a better name for it would be hit-a-Split

  3. rods says:

    tiago will become the finals mvp if he will practice his free throw right now. to increase it to 80%

  4. rods says:

    will the OKC do it again and again due to frustrations?????? a good strategy or bad?????? i just witness this kind of attitude in third quarter not in the last six minutes of the fourth quarter. OKC needs more experience for them to earn a ring at least. they love tiago a lovely hug from the rookies…. hahahahahahahahaha

  5. Spurs4Champ says:

    its HUG-a-Splitter….hahahaha…

  6. gospurs says:

    OKC, don’t be surprised if the Jedi Master Coach Pop uses “Hack-A-Perk” on Kendrick Perkins.

  7. 305 says:

    I wonder how many free throws Splitter has been taking in today’s practice…

  8. Michael says:

    Spurs are the better team and best team in NBA right now. They don’t have 20 consecutive wins for nothing, 10 of which are in playoffs. Sorry OKC fans, not your turn yet

  9. John says:

    It would be really comical if Splitter starting to evade the hackers. A basketball game would become a tag game played by two grown man. Oh, that would be fun to watch.

  10. daniel.b says:

    like i said spurs can close out games that lakers couldnt against the thunder and okc has met there match but the spurs are much much better becuase of there bench and very good ball moving by parker. i said this series will go 5-6games and im sticking with it, spurs got it… and on the other side, im petty sure the celtics can make it a series with the heat but the heat are moving on to the finals with the spurs, in the finals i got 5-6games spurs….

  11. pravdo says:

    It’s not hack-a-Splitter, it’s slap-a-Splitter.

  12. Drob says:

    Gotta love Pop and the media. He is getting better. His answers are more than three words now.

    Go SPURS Go!

  13. pastrypride says:

    There’s no evidence hack-a-Splitter had anything to do with OKC’s success in the fourth quarter. I don’t see why it would have a lingering effect after the break between quarters and on a different San Antonio unit. All we know is that the strategy gave the Spurs 4 points on 4 possessions and, as you note, that the Spurs lead increased. I wouldn’t say it worked for OKC.

    • uoykcuf says:

      Spurs are playing fast, that stop the tempo down, Stop the clock, get a breather, regroup. The lead did increase but the momentum kinda change and the okc started building their run after that.

      • Spurrred says:

        Well said uoykcuf, Its not only points. It was the way the game was moving. OKC was a step slow and undisciplined. When the hack happened the game slowed dramatically and OKC caught their wind and was able to use the energy they were not expending running after the Spurs on the offensive end.

    • jpj556 says:

      Right on, PP! The writer ignores the facts that he reports
      — Splitter was actually effective
      — the lead grew
      — the crowd went nuts and got even more into the game.
      — the crowd didn’t blame Splitter for the Thunder’s tactic (remember Hack-a-Shaq?)
      so he can agree with Brooks. C’mon, what else would Brooks say? How about, “Naw, it was a stupid move because they (the Spurs) actually increased their lead, and the crowd didn’t get down on Splitter. They didn’t let our tactic come between them and their team. Hack-a-Splitter” did nothing for us.” Probably not.

      — the 4th quarter flow changed because of new tactics from the Thunder, not because of what they did in the 3rd quarter.

      Good reporting, but draws the wrong conclusion.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        your info i feel is a little off, OKc actually trimmed the lead down to 13 by doing the hack a splitter, it was Westbrook forcing the action pulling up for 2 consecutive missed 3’s that allowed San antonio to stretch the lead.

  14. sctx says:

    Hack-A-Splitt if you want, it just won’t help….I’m with David Robinson on this, we’re seeing some of the best team basketball ever played…. Go Spurs Go!!!

  15. jam says:

    nice travel by harden btw. god i hate this thing. i dont care if you are star or not, if you travel, double dribble or whatever it should be called. and as much as i love heat , same goes for lebron and dwyane.

  16. Paulo says:

    the point is that If I was Tiago S. I would practice a lot more free throws to stop been a weapon of the adversary, go practice Tiago!!

  17. BamBam says:

    Spurs are just better team than okc. But who knows its still 2-0.