You go to San Antonio with two expectations: that your fouls will be called and theirs won’t, and that the Spurs will always find a way to foil your defense even when fouls aren’t involved. There were instances of both this evening, though not as many as the stereotype might suggest — and not enough to allow the Spurs to walk away with it. And with the fourth quarter winding down, Kevin Durant, who’d been fairly quiet for the last few minutes, tossed up a pair of treys. With the Thunder up 108-100 and 38 seconds left, there was a ridiculous little contretemps which for all the world looked like a wrestling match between Derek Fisher and Patty Mills. Offsetting T’s were assessed and a jump ball was called. That was the last of the drama, and the Thunder head off to the dreaded (or dreadful) East with a 111-105 victory in hand.
San Antonio started down a couple of players: Danny Green and Tiago Splitter were in recovery mode. Then Kawhi Leonard exited at halftime with a hand injury, and there was some brief concern when Tony Parker, just coming off a bruised shin, took a trip to the locker room. Not to worry; Parker carried a great deal of the load tonight for the Spurs, with a game-high, almost Durantesque 37 points (14-22), while the ageless Tim Duncan came up with his twenty thousandth double-double, 14 points and 13 boards.
KD himself hit for 36 on 12-22 shooting, though he turned the ball over a very unDurantesque eleven times. And anyway, the real story for OKC was Reggie Jackson, who has gone for 20 points or more in all three games against the Spurs: this time he knocked down 27, tying his career high, and served up eight assists. Serge Ibaka had 14 points and five blocks, in what is starting to seem normal for him. In the Battle of the Benches, the Spurs won, 35-30. (The Steven Adams Foul Report: three in 14 minutes.)
Travel day tomorrow, followed by a Friday night in Beantown and a Saturday in the City of Brotherly Fisticuffs. The Celtics and the Sixers between them have 27 wins; the Thunder just got their 33rd. Despite that, no predictions will be made from this desk.