The Oklahoma City Thunder faced another playoff-bound team tonight, as they visited the San Antonio Spurs. In a game where offense was tough to come by, the Thunder fell short to the Spurs 103-99, behind 25 points from LaMarcus Aldridge. The loss ties the Thunder with the Spurs (and Pelicans) at 44-32, and just a game ahead of the Timberwolves and Jazz.
The score was knotted at 85 midway through the 4th quarter after a offensively challenged start. The Spurs went on a 9-2 run to take a 94-87 advantage. Russell Westbrook knocked down a jumper and then the Spurs turned it up a notch. They just seemed to want it more than the Thunder down the stretch, the defensive pressure and offensive execution clicked at the right time for the Spurs.
The Thunder failed to execute offensively and the Spurs turned it into transition opportunities. They turned a missed shot from Paul George into a transition three from Patty Mills. Then, Aldridge blocked Russ at the rim and it turned into a Thunder turnover, which led to another transition three from Davis Bertans.
The Spurs led 95-87 when the Thunder made a final push to get back into the game. Westbrook connected on a mid range shot, then Corey Brewer got a steal and turned it into a dunk. The Thunder cut the lead to 91-95, but they could not keep the Spurs off the free throw line. Aldridge made one of two free throws to make the score 93-97, then George was fouled on three by Dejounte Murray.
George knocked down all three free throws and cut the lead to 96-97. The Spurs isolated Aldridge against Steven Adams on the next Spurs possession, Aldridge was able to muscle past Adams for an easy dunk, as there was no Thunder bodies in help. Westbrook turned the ball on the next Thunder possession, then the Thunder forced Aldridge into a tough turnaround jumper that missed. The Thunder trailed by three, Billy Donovan refused to use a timeout, and that led to a forced Westbrook three that did not draw iron.
The Thunder were forced to foul and Mills made both free throws to make the score 101-96. After a Thunder timeout, a set side out-of-bounds play freed George for a three to pull the Thunder within two. The Thunder trapped Mills in the backcourt, nearly forced a turnover, but the ball bounced off of Westbrook’s foot. The Thunder fouled Manu Ginobili and he made both free throws to seal the victory for the Spurs.
The Thunder shot 43% from the field and hit on 11 of 30 threes. The Spurs won the rebound battle 48-43 and dished more assists at 22-19. They also forced the Thunder to 15 turnovers and scored 17 points off the turnovers. The Spurs also hit 13 of 31 threes.
George led the Thunder with 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting and 3-of-6 from three. Westbrook had a double-double with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting and 11 rebounds, but finished with 7 turnovers and had several critical miscues down the stretch. Brewer scored 14 points and Adams had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Aldridge led the Spurs with a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds. Mills scored 14 points and Kyle Anderson had 10.
The Thunder return to action tomorrow night in Oklahoma City against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are currently 10th in the Western Conference (40-35) and defeated the Thunder in February on a game-winning three by Gary Harris.