Let’s face facts. The Spurs always guarantee a tough match-up. Gregg Popovich simply knows how to prepare against any team, regardless of talent level.
It’s not that the Thunder weren’t enjoying a nice streak of their own. They were in the midst of a 6-game home winning streak, after all. The problem facing them last night was the fact that they were putting that streak up against an even more impressive one. Namely the unreal 11-game Spurs winning streak that extended back to November 2nd, when the Portland Trail Blazers handed them their only loss of the season.
The Thunder didn’t start too bad. The Spurs, however, hung well with the young Thunder squad. Tied at 12 with 4:32 remaining in the opening quarter, the Spurs went on a 9-2 run to extend their lead to seven (20-14) with 2:09 to go in the 1st. The Thunder, showing their resilience early, closed the quarter out well. The Spurs only enjoyed a 21-19 advantage heading into the 2nd.
The second quarter was a lot of back-and-forth, featuring 4 ties and 4 lead changes total. Both teams only enjoyed maximum leads of 5 apiece. The Spurs were able to outscore the Thunder for the second straight quarter however, extending their lead to 3 (46-43) to close the first half.
I’m usually pretty critical of Scott Brooks as a head coach myself. I just find him to be the type of guy who isn’t really all that savvy when it comes to the Xs and Os of basketball. It’s becoming quite obvious that he is one hell of a motivator, however. I’m not sure what he said to his squad at halftime last night, but they responded with one amazing 3rd quarter performance. Down 52-51 at the 8:08 mark, the Thunder sparked a 17-7 run to extend their lead to 9 with 33.9 seconds to play in the 3rd, which allowed them the opportunity to hold onto a 68-61 lead going into the 4th quarter.
The Spurs tried everything they could in the 4th quarter, but the Thunder had already established too much momentum to be stopped, even swelling the lead to 11 with 8:46 to play. While the Spurs were able to outscore the Thunder in the 4th, it was only by 1 point as the Thunder claimed a 94-88 victory.
The victory improves the Thunder’s record to 10-3 on the season. This win marked their 7th straight victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and their 5th straight victory overall. This win also helped the Thunder snap an 11-game Spurs winning streak. This loss hardly hurts the Spurs however, who are currently 13-2, despite the setback.
Kevin Durant put up a nice 24-point, 13-rebound, double-double performance that led all players on both teams in both categories. Serge Ibaka put up a nice double-double of his own with 17 points and 11 boards. Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb came up big, scoring a combined 35 from the bench (Jackson scored 23, Lamb dropped 12).
The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard posted the only double-double on the Spurs side (14 points, 10 rebounds). Although Tony Parker was able to contribute 16 points, Tim Duncan was held to a mere 11 for the game. The only significant contributions from the Spurs bench were Manu Ginobili’s 12 points and Boris Diaw’s 10.
This was a nice win for the Thunder, but now they turn their focus toward vengeance. Namely the focus is on avenging the almost-comeback that was swiped away by Andre Iguodala’s last-second 16-footer at ORACLE Arena a mere two weeks ago. That was the last time the Thunder tasted defeat, so you know they’re itching to get their win back. The Thunder will host the 9-7 Golden State Warriors this Friday at 7pm. The game will come to you from Chesapeake Energy Arena, and will be broadcast via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA TV.