MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

April 4, 2014

Thunder halt San Antonio win streak at 19 games



OKLAHOMA CITY — San Antonio came into its matchup with Oklahoma City trying to prove a couple of things. First, that the Thunder didn’t have the Spurs’ number, and that their 19-game winning streak was for real.

Unfortunately for the Spurs, they were unable to do either as they fell to the Thunder 106-94 Thursday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The win not only ended the streak, it also gave the Thunder a 4-0 season sweep over San Antonio. Just as important, Oklahoma City now trails San Antonio by three games in the in the Western Conference standings with eight games left in the regular season.

It was a tight game until the fourth quarter. But Oklahoma City (55-19) had too much energy and San Antonio (59-17) was unable to keep pace on either end.

 With 5:25 left in the game, Russell Westbrook closed out the competitive portion of the game when he came up with a steal that led to an uncontested reverse, windmill dunk. It gave Oklahoma City a 12-point advantage and forced Popovich to call a timeout.

“It’s good,” Westbrook said. “I haven’t had a dunk for the Thunder fans in a while, so I thought I would do a little something tonight. It was good to get loud and have some fun.”

When the Spurs came back on the court, the starters were on the bench as the Spurs seemingly gave in to the Oklahoma City pressure.

Patty Mills paced the Spurs with 21 points off the bench. Tim Duncan added 17 points and eight rebounds. Kawhi Leonard scored 17. Tony Parker was held to six points and three assists in the loss.

“Our mindset at the moment is taking all these games that we get and treat them like a playoff,” Mills said. “And tonight was a great opportunity to get that. We haven’t been in this position before, but this is great practice for us. Let’s make the most of it.”

Durant made 11 of 26 shots from the field to go with seven rebounds. He has now scored 25 points in 39 straight games.

Westbrook added 27 points, six assists and four steals. Serge Ibaka had 12 rebounds and 11 points. Reggie Jackson came off the bench to score 14 points and  Caron Butler racked up five steals.

“I thought we picked it up defensively in the second half with our hands,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We are a good defensive team because it starts with everybody.”

San Antonio burst out of the gate hitting almost everything they put up. Duncan put  centers Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams through the grinder in the opening period as they went up by 11 points.

Despite shooting only 40 percent and being outrebounded by five in the first half, Oklahoma City fought back and trailed 51-48 at halftime.

The third quarter was all about the Thunder picking up the intensity on defense. They had the Spurs frustrated at every turn with the increased physical play and tenacity  in which they went after rebounds and loose balls.

Westbrook led the charge as he attacked Parker and turned their matchup into a physical scrum, which found Parker continually picking himself off the ground.

“I’m not gonna stop regardless if I started 0-20, turn the ball over 10 times,” Westbrook said. “I’m gonna keep coming. That’s my motto.”

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