“Who are you, and what have you done with Tony Parker?” I mean, two points in 25 minutes, and not a trace of him in the fourth quarter. Which isn’t why the Spurs, after pulling to within three with four minutes left, wound up losing by 12 to the Thunder — that was OKC hustle, pure and simple — but apparently this was a night for short rotations: Scott Brooks played only nine guys, Gregg Popovich just eight. (Manu Ginobili was out, but Pop still issued five DNP-CDs.) And the 100-88 win puts OKC only half a game back of the wicked Texans.
Fearless forwards Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan — I swear, Duncan is getting younger despite being older than God, if not older than Derek Fisher — turned in stellar performances anyway: both bagged 24 points and double-digit rebounds. However, Tiago Splitter, previously a thorn in the Thunder’s side, was more of a vague, inchoate itch tonight, held to four points and six boards.
Speaking of Fisher, he got his usual 15 minutes; however, he got a highly unusual 17 points, including five of seven from the Crystal Bridge. (I’m waiting for Brooks to issue a single-word statement: “Nyah.”) And it’s a good thing Fisher did that, because Kevin Martin disappeared nearly as thoroughly as Tony Parker. Which means most of the rest of the offense, as usual, was Russell Westbrook (27) and Kevin Durant (25). The Thunder shot a nothing-special 46 percent, but with the Spurs failing to break 40, it was good enough. (How can the Spurs fail to break 40? Might be those thirteen OKC blocks.)
So the season series is split 2-2, but the bigger news is the in-conference record. A team plays 52 games against members of its own conference. The Thunder are 35-13; the Spurs are 32-15. If these two teams finish with an identical overall record, OKC gets the nod. But first, there’s a little obstacle called the Indiana Pacers, who have won five straight and will be happy to start off the Thunder’s weekend with a loss tomorrow night. The Pacers are, um, 29-8 at home.