The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs at home, 104-94. In a game with large playoff implications, OKC gritted their way to an early lead and then traded blows with the short-handed yet resilient Spurs squad throughout the remainder to hold them off. Going into the game, the Spurs were clinging to the 4th seed while OKC was trying to simply stay in the running. By the end of the game, it is the Spurs who are tumbling toward an early vacation, now only percentage points ahead of the 8th place Clippers and one game ahead of the 9th place Nuggets in the loss column. Meanwhile, OKC jumps up to 5th and, depending on the severity of Anthony Davis’ injury, could suddenly be presented with a window to reach as high as the 4th spot.
Since this was a significant win, naturally the two guys we need to talk about are Corey Brewer and Nick Collison. Brewer, cementing his place in the rotation, was once again solid in 30 minutes of action, finishing with 12 points on 4-7 shooting, including 2-2 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Mr. Thunder will PnR his way to NBA heaven, finishing with 7 points on 3-5 shooting, as he helped fill in for Steven Adams, who only played 17 minutes in part due to early foul trouble and tweaking his ankle early in the 2nd half.
It's taken a minute, but Billy Donovan finally figured out what so many of us have known all along: Nick Collison is his best player.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 11, 2018
Russell Westbrook finished the game with his 19th triple-double of the year and 98th in his career. Overall, it was very much a low-key performance by Westbrook, who only took 15 shots (7-11 from the free throw line) and finished with 21-12-10. Oddly enough, he didn’t even hit it with his main shooters, as Paul George and Carmelo Anthony finished with a combined 5-24 from the floor and 1-11 from 3-point range.
The bench, led by the indomitable Collison, finished with 50 points, nearly half of OKC’s point total. Jerami Grant led the way with 15 and 8 rebounds, Alex Abrines scored 11 and connected on 3-4 from long range, and Patrick Patterson recorded 10 in 21 minutes of action.
The Spurs did not go down without a fight. After OKC had extended its 4th quarter lead to 21, it dissipated in the blink of an eye. The lead was cut to 10 after Davis Bertans hit 3 free throws in a row, and then Bryn Forbes cut it to a too-close-for-comfort 7 point deficit with 2 minutes remaining. But like I always say, the Brew Crew is True, and Corey knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead back to 9. Finally,
Carmelo Grant iced the game with a corner-3 to seal the deal.