The old rivalry persists

You seldom see the Thunder and the Spurs in close proximity in the standings. But neither of these teams has exhibited consistent brilliance this season, with the result that both of them were sitting in third place in their respective divisions, OKC at 38-29, San Antonio at 37-28. The Spurs, minus Kawhi Leonard, have had their troubles, and after trailing most of the night, they opened the fourth quarter with four points in six minutes. With the Thunder up 21, though, the Spurs roused themselves to an 11-0 run and got that margin down to seven before OKC regrouped and forced the issue. In the end, it was a ten-point difference: Thunder 104, Spurs 94, and OKC now leads the season series 2-1.

Perhaps the most remarkable statistic from this game involves free throws. OKC has not been good from the stripe, hitting only 16 of 24 tonight, but San Antonio managed only 4-7. Somehow the Thunder committed only 13 fouls all night. Steven Adams, who turned his left ankle late in the third quarter, had four of them. Four Spurs finished in double figures, three of them from the bench: Rudy Gay and Davis Bertans came up with 14 each to lead the team. (Manu Ginobili, a typically reliable scorer, took no shots.) The oft-criticized Thunder reserves were on point tonight, contributing 50 points, nearly as many as the starters. Carmelo Anthony had a terrible night, with only two; Russell Westbrook cracked the triple-double mark (21-12-10) with 1:18 left, serving up his tenth dime to Jerami Grant (15 points) for a trey.

One game remains in this homestand: against Sacramento, on Monday. The Kings, in 12th place in the West and definitely not going anywhere in the post-season, are nonetheless capable of giving the Thunder fits.

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