The comeback kids in black

By general agreement, Andre Roberson is among the NBA’s elite defenders, but there’s only so long an elite defender can keep the lid on Kawhi Leonard, and that’s what happened tonight: once Leonard popped through, there was no stopping him. The Thunder, up by as many as 21 in the third quarter, wound up tied with the Spurs at 85 with three minutes left, and in the last minute LaMarcus Aldridge gave San Antonio the lead at 94-93. Russell Westbrook dug into his seemingly endless supply of dimes to set up Steven Adams for a slam; Aldridge came back with a bucket to make it 96-95 with 18.7 left. And then Kawhi grabbed a loose ball, earned an and-one, and after the last shot piled on one more free throw. San Antonio 100, Oklahoma City 95, the Spurs win the rubber game of the season series, and the Thunder don’t drop to seventh, which is probably just as well since the Spurs are pretty much locked into second.

Leonard finished with a startling 28 points. Pau Gasol, coming off the bench, picked up 17; Aldridge, after a slow start, put together a 14-10 double-double. Westbrook had a perfectly average, for him anyway, triple-double, 32-15-12. Nobody really shot well — the Spurs didn’t quite make 44 percent, the Thunder were barely over 40 — but this is the time of year when the defense needs to shine, and tonight, Thunder defense sort of went away midway through the third and never came back. (First half: OKC 54, SA 41; second half, SA 59, OKC 41.)

Loud City, of course, was silenced, at least temporarily. They’ll regroup for Sunday’s matinee matchup with Charlotte. Then this happens: the Bucks come to town on Tuesday, and then the Thunder have to go beard the Grizzlies in their Memphis den. I have a really bad feeling about that two-game sequence.





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