OKC Falls Flat At San Antonio
Grant Belcher, News9.com
SAN ANTONIO – While the Spurs have never been the most exciting team to watch, there is a reason they have won four championships with their current core.
San Antonio proved on Saturday night that experience and fundamental basketball can still beat out young talent sometimes with a 107-96 victory over the Thunder.
It wasn't so much that the Thunder faltered in very many areas. They shot a reasonable 47 percent and kept up with San Antonio well enough in rebounding.
It was simply the fact that the Spurs continued to do what they do so well. They shot the 3-ball at 12-of-23 (52 percent), they minimized turnovers with just 10, and they played exceptional team defense.
Point guard Tony Parker was spectacular for the Spurs, putting up 42 points on 16-of-29 shooting and adding nine assists.
Parker was critical to the Spurs' ball movement and open shooting as well as the Thunder struggled to rotate to the open shooters. Three San Antonio players hit three 3-pointers or more on the evening.
The Thunder held the lead only briefly before the Spurs took it over for good at the 4:37 mark of the first quarter.
From that point on, the lead only stretched to 10 points at halftime and to as many as 24 overall several times in the second half.
With 8:26 remaining in the fourth, a 3-pointer from Daequan Cook brought the Thunder back to within single digits briefly, but Parker responded with two quick buckets of his own to increase the gap again.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 22 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth consecutive double-double. James Harden had 19 points off the bench and Russell Westbrook had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists.
With the game out of reach for much of the second half, Scott Brooks went to his bench to give his starters a bit of rest. Every active player saw minutes, and backup point guard Reggie Jackson had his best statistical game of the season with 10 points in 17 minutes of action.
With the loss, Oklahoma City falls to 18-5 on the season. The Spurs improved to 16-9 and kept up their incredible home court record at 13-1.
OKC will have Super Bowl Sunday off, along with most of the rest of the NBA, before heading out for another tough matchup on the road at Portland on Monday. Tipoff for the Thunder and Blazers is set for 9 p.m. central.