Two of the NBA’s best met in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night in a sloppy affair, as the aging Spurs saw their 11-game winning streak come to an end in a 94-88 loss to the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Led by Kevin Durant, who finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists, and Serge Ibaka, who added 17 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, and a pair of assists, Oklahoma City turned things around after a slow start with some key contributions from their bench and a solid third quarter, improving to 7-0 on their home court.
Entering Wednesday night’s contest, the Thunder were averaging 103.5 points per game but the usually unstoppable duo of Durant and Russell Westbrook struggled to find the mark early on, forcing the hosts to look elsewhere for their offense against an experienced team.
Trailing 46-43 at the half, Oklahoma City went on an 8-0 run in the third quarter that turned the momentum in their favor, and led by as much as 11 points in the fourth before holding off a San Antonio charge midway through the last period that brought the game to within three points.
Unable to retake the lead, the Spurs watched as Durant and backup point guard Reggie Jackson drained the Thunder’s final 13 points on the way to Oklahoma City’s fifth-straight win against their toughest competition to date.
Providing what Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich referred to as “the difference” after the game, Jackson matched a career-high with 23 points and his performance was crucial to the victory on a night when Durant and Westbrook shot a combined 6-24 in the first-half of action.
Finishing with just six points, Westbrook uncharacteristically struggled early and often against San Antonio, finishing just 2-16 from the floor, while Jeremy Lamb contributed 12 points and two rebounds off of the bench for the hosts.
With the win, Oklahoma City improves to 10-3 overall and will look to continue their best start at home since 2004-05 when the franchise was in Seattle on Friday when the Golden State Warriors come to town.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 16 points and seven assists, while Kawhi Leonard tallied 14 points and 10 boards, and veteran Tim Duncan chipped-in with 11 points and eight rebounds in San Antonio’s first loss since November 2nd in Portland when they suffered their only other defeat of the season against the Trail Blazers.
San Antonio came into the game averaging 101.2 points per contest but shot just 39.1% from the field, 25.9% from long distance, and only 64.3% from the charity stripe.
Now 6-2 on the road, the Spurs lead both the Southwest Division and Western Conference with a 13-2 record, and will travel to Orlando for a matchup with the Magic on Friday night.