Backed into a corner, the gritty Oklahoma City Thunder emerged 102-92 to halt the San Antonio Spurs' nine-game unbeaten run.
Eclectic energy pulsated throughout Chesapeake Energy Arena as Russell Westbrook (23 pts, 13 rebs, 13 asts) collected triple-double #31 of his campaign. In the process, Westbrook helped abolish Oklahoma City’s four-game winless drought.
Additionally, key Thunder cogs Victor Oladipo (20 pts), Enes Kanter (14), and Doug McDermott (11) bolstered a signature victory for Coach Billy Donovan’s crew.
Overall, nine Thunder scored 3+ points, while OKC exhibited precise ball movement to amass 23 assists on 41 made baskets.
The purposeful Thunder out-rebounded San Antonio 48-40, and held Gregg Popovich’s well-heeled squad to just 41/31/80 shooting. Oklahoma City’s swarming defense also created 14 uncharacteristic turnovers from the Spurs.
In just their 14th loss this season, Kawhi Leonard (team-high 19 pts) was held in check by Andre Roberson. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol (18) led a creditable bench charge, and LaMarcus Alrdrige finished with 17 points.
Though, in the end, Taj Gibson (7) made the most of his first OKC start, as he and Steven Adams (11) bullied San Antonio in the paint.
Without question, after dropping four-straight contests to sub .500 iterations this Thunder win comes as a welcome surprise. Tonight’s victory also breathes renewed life into Russell Westbrook’s ebbing MVP hopes.
In head-to-head competition, the insatiable guard outperformed fellow MVP-hopeful Kawhi Leonard by a decided margin.
Oklahoma City (36-29) is now locked in a virtual tie with Memphis for the Western Conference’s #6 seed.
Conversely, San Antonio falls to 50-14.
The Thunder will attempt to keep their momentum going Saturday afternoon vs. Utah in the final game of a recent homestand.
Oklahoma City is now 25-6 when Westbrook notches a triple-double performance. With his 31st triple-double, Westbrook has tied Wilt Chamberlain’s 67-68’ record for second most triple-doubles in a season.