Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka all stayed back in OKC to rest on Tuesday instead of taking on the Spurs in San Antonio. With that being said, there was anticipation that OKC would get run out of the building without its three stars against a mostly complete Spurs’ team, but apparently no one broke the news to the rest of the Thunder roster.
Despite being short-handed, OKC’s group of reserves gave it everything they had, but ultimately the Spurs’ spectacular mixture of veterans and playmakers were able to sneak away with a 102-98 win in overtime.
Loved watching @okcthunder play passionate, smart, efficient, unselfish, & fearless BB. Dion w huge play but shot 5-22 & 1-7 3s. @News9— Dean Blevins (@DeanBlevins) April 13, 2016
Loved watching @okcthunder play passionate, smart, efficient, unselfish, & fearless BB. Dion w huge play but shot 5-22 & 1-7 3s. @News9
OKC trailed by five points with 1:31 left in regulation and could’ve easily backed down seeing there wasn’t anything to gain by winning, but clearly there was pride on the line. Dion Waiters sprinted towards the basket and threw down an emphatic two-handed dunk to bring the Thunder within three points, and then after a stop, Waiters converted an and-1 layup that tied the game with 16.2 seconds left after making the free throw. Kawhi Leonard’s shot at the buzzer clanked off the rim and the game went to overtime.
But in the extra period, San Antonio flexed its muscles, and OKC’s supporting task was unable to make any more clutch shots down the stretch as the Spurs improve to 40-1 at home on the season.
While the game didn’t end ideally for the Thunder, it definitely started off with a bang.
Almost as if they were waiting for this moment all season, the makeshift Thunder lineup roared out of the gates and let the Spurs know quickly they weren’t backing down without a fight. San Antonio jumped out to a narrow 19-18 lead, but instead of shrinking after falling behind, the road team rallied.
Pop just reminded his team again that KD, Russ and Serge are in OKC. #sarcasm #News9Thunder— Steve McGehee (@SteveMcGehee) April 13, 2016
Pop just reminded his team again that KD, Russ and Serge are in OKC. #sarcasm #News9Thunder
Cameron Payne converted a runner off the glass, Enes Kanter then added a couple free throws before Payne drained a money ball to put the Thunder up 32-21 after one quarter. While the 11 point lead was a sizable advantage, OKC kept pouring it on. Kyle Singler drained a 3-pointer seconds into the second quarter, and eventually Randy Foye checked in and scored on a step back to cap off a 23-to-4 run that put the Thunder ahead by 18 points.
Most surprising quarter in @okcthunder history. 32-21 over Spurs. How bout Waiters' D ! Fun to watch. @news9— Dean Blevins (@DeanBlevins) April 13, 2016
Most surprising quarter in @okcthunder history. 32-21 over Spurs. How bout Waiters' D ! Fun to watch. @news9
It was a large margin, but definitely not large enough.
San Antonio responded with a 12-to-4 run to get within 10 points before halftime, and then ripped off a similar run (15-to-4) run to close out the third quarter as they took a two-point lead into the final frame. Once the Spurs had life, it was near impossible to put them back down and Leonard took over the rest of the way as he scored 10 points in the fourth quarter in overtime combined to lead the Spurs to victory.
Payne, Kanter, Waiters and Steven Adams all scored 17 points apiece while Kanter added 16 rebounds and Adams contributed nine of his own. It was a complete team effort, with Foye and Anthony Morrow also scoring eight points each while the team shot 22-for-25 from the charity stripe.
Leonard led the Spurs with 26 points while Tony Parker dazzled all night to the tune of 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Boban Marjanovic was also a huge factor for San Antonio, adding nine points and eight rebounds while clogging up the interior on defense.
The Thunder finished the regular season with a 55-27 record and will be the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Playoffs are scheduled to start this weekend with tip off times still to be announced once seeding is finalized.