If you yell DEFENSE! loud enough — and they do that routinely in Loud City — eventually the Thunder get the message. After trailing much of the first half, OKC cranked the lid shut on the Spurs, holding them to 15 points in the third quarter and long stretches of scorelessness in the fourth, abruptly ending their win streak at 11 and sending them back to San Antonio with a 94-88 loss.
What is perhaps most remarkable is that while Batman and Robin were on hand to do their thing, it was the rest of the Justice League that did the heavy lifting. To borrow a comparison made by Darnell Mayberry, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb went 15-21 (3-5 on treys) for 35 points, while Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were 12-39 (1-10 on treys) for 30 points. The Caped Crusaders aren’t exactly ready to be replaced yet — Westbrook, while stuck in Brick City most of the night, made some fairly startling plays and improved on his assist average, serving up eight, and Durant still had a double-double (game-high 24 points, 13 rebounds) — but you gotta cheer for the new kids. Serge Ibaka, who with Lamb took the Spurs apart in the third, finished with 17 points and 11 boards.
San Antonio’s Usual Suspects were deployed in the usual manner, but to less effect than usual: they shot less than 40 percent, hit only seven of 27 treys, and missed five of 14 free throws. Five Spurs made double figures, led by Tony Parker with 16. One thing they did well was steal the ball: 11 instances, four by Kawhi Leonard. However, they blocked only three shots, two fewer than Ibaka. (Leonard had the only San Antonio double-double, with 14 points and 10 boards.) And one truth seems indisputable: tonight the Spurs’ sixth man — Manu Ginobili — was not quite as good as the Thunder’s Jackson, who tied his career high with 23 points.
Maybe it’s karma. In the second quarter, Derek Fisher collected three fouls in less than twelve seconds, mostly the result of Jeff Ayres poking at him; once Ayres got caught, the momentum seemed to shift just a hair. Or maybe that’s me being pleased about it.
The Warriors will be here on Black Friday, perhaps without Andre Igoudala, who killed the Thunder with a buzzer-beater in Oakland not so long ago.