The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs battled to the final buzzer on Friday night. The Thunder led by as many as 23 early, but the Spurs rallied back and got a hard fought victory at home, 104-101.
The Spurs led the Thunder 100-97 late the fourth and the Spurs' Kyle Anderson went to the line and missed a pair of free throws. Paul George came off the screen and had a lane for a layup but elected to throw a skip that was intercepted by Manu Ginobili. George quickly made up for the turnover, stole the ball from Ginobili and was fouled. George made the front end but missed the second. The rebound went back to George and he got fouled again. George again made one of two from the line.
The Spurs were ahead by one and Danny Green fired up a three with shot clock winding down that clanked off the rim. Aldridge got the rebound and put it in to give the Spurs a 102-99 lead.
Billy Donovan designed a great play out of the timeout, the Thunder got a great look from Alex Abrines that missed. Westbrook skied for an offensive rebound that got the Thunder another look from George that missed. Westbrook rose up for another incredible offensive rebound and threw it out before it went out-of-bounds. Carmelo Anthony got the ball on the wing, took to the top of the key where he launched a long range shot that swished through the net. After review, it was revealed that Melo's foot was on the line and it only counted as a two.
The Thunder fouled Pau Gasol and he knocked down both free throws to give the Spurs a 104-101 lead. After a timeout, Westbrook could not handle the inbounds pass and forced up a wild three that missed and gave the Spurs the victory.
In the first quarter, the Thunder gave perhaps their best performance in a quarter on both ends of the floor. Defensively, the Thunder were as elite as ever. The rotations were on point, there was a hand up on every shot attempt, paint touches were few and far between for the Spurs.
The defense got multiple stops and led to many transition opportunities. The Thunder were dominating in the paint, on the boards, and in transition. The Thunder simply overpowered the Spurs, eventually scoring 18 unanswered points capped by 4-point play attempt from Paul George. The Thunder led 32-15 after the first quarter.
The resilient Spurs climbed back into the game by outscoring the Thunder 63-46 over the next two quarters. The Spurs defense made it tough for the Thunder to get any clean looks and prevented Westbrook from attacking the paint without seeing multiple Spurs jerseys. Westbrook ended up shooting 5-of-22 from the field.
The Thunder shot 44% from the field and made 14 of 21 from the free throw line. They also assisted on 24 of 39 made field goals. The rebound battle was extremely close and the points in the paint advantage favored the Thunder by 4 (40-36). The Spurs got to the free throw line 29 times and made 22. The Spurs also made 14 threes out of 35 attempts.
The Thunder were led by Melo's 20 points. George scored 18 points, dished 6 assists and grabbed 7 rebounds. Westbrook scored 15 with 9 rebounds and 9 assists, but he was quiet after a strong first quarter. Adams chipped in 16 points.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Danny Green chipped in 17 points and Pau Gasol scored 14. The Spurs also got a much needed spark off the bench from Davis Bertans who scored 9 points and hit 3 threes.
The Thunder will have another showdown in the Western Conference on Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.