The Oklahoma City Thunder improved their record to 2-1 against the San Antonio Spurs following a 111-92 victory Saturday night. A game that once looked like a great opportunity for OKC to test itself amidst a six-game winning streak, turned into a night off for the Spurs five best players--Kawhi Leonard was held out due to a quad injury, while Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tim Duncan were simply given the night off to rest.
The Thunder's stars were in top form once again; Kevin Durant led the way with 31 points and 10 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook poured in 29 points along with six rebounds and eight assists. The Spurs were led by David West and Jonathan Simmons who each scored 17 points apiece.
Thunder Shake Off Rough Start And Extend Win Streak to Seven
This was a game that had some of the air let out of it by Gregg Popovich's decision to rest his best players and early you could tell that the Thunder weren't up to their normal standards. One of the great things about San Antonio though is that they have twelve high-class veteran players on their roster.
With the top five having the night off that still left West, Andre Miller, Danny Green, Kevin Martin, Patty Mills, Matt Boner and Boris Diaw on the floor. Each of those players possesses both the talent, basketball IQ and experience to make life difficult for their opponent.
That's before you add in the youthful legs and skills of Kyle Anderson, Simmons and Boban Marjanovic who have been itching to get regular rotation minutes all year.
OKC took a punch in the mouth in the first quarter, but they weren't knocked down by the feisty second-unit of the Spurs. It was defense that spun things around for the Thunder. In both the second and third quarters they were able to hold San Antonio to less than 20 points. Once the defense picked up the slack it was the hot shooting of KD, Russ and Enes Kanter--who, combined, went 30-40 from the field--that brought the game home for the Thunder.
Thunder Offense Breaks Game Open in Second Half
Besides Kyle Singler, Dion Waiters and Cameron Payne every player to enter the game scored for the Thunder. Outside of Randy Foye's 1-6 showing the rest of OKC shot a blazing 62 percent for the game. Durant was on fire from all areas of the court including knocking down five of his seven attempts from deep. Westbrook went perfect from the charity stripe and once again used his pace and attacking style of play to get easier and open shots for his teammates.
In the third quarter alone OKC rained in 35 points. The game really opened up halfway through the third thanks to a two-minute sequence of play that saw KD hit two jumpers, an Andre Roberson three and dunks from Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka off Westbrook assists. Down 13, Pop was forced to call his second timeout of the quarter and the Thunder rode the energy of the fans and cohesiveness of team play to a 19-point win.
The Thunder's now own the NBA's longest current win streak, seven games, and that rut that they were in coming out of the All-Star break now seems like it was year's ago instead of just a few weeks. If Oklahoma City can continue to sustain this type of defensive intensity and effort they have the offensive firepower to hang with any of the other elite teams in the NBA. What once felt like a season of woe has quickly spun around into a campaign of hope and belief. OKC can do the unthinkable and tonight was proof of that.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, improves streak of 20-plus point games to 58 (third highest of all-time)
Thunder Down Under: Enes Kanter, a huge 20-10 game for the future Sixth Man of the Year
Thunder Blunder: Dion Waiters, 0-4, two fouls and two turnovers were his only stats
Thunder Plunderer: David West, king of all things midrange
Next game: At the Toronto Raptors, Monday, March 28th, 6:30 PM Central Daylight Time.