Mar 26, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) fights for position agains tSan Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports –
(The Sports Xchange) – The Thunder chose rhythm and the Spurs chose relaxation Saturday night in Oklahoma City.
You might be able to guess how it turned out.
Despite the two teams virtually locked into place for the upcoming playoffs, the Thunder went with its regular starters and regular rotation while San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich rested four of his five starters on the second night of a back-to-back.
The result was predictable. The Thunder pulled away in the second half and cruised to a 111-92 victory, their seventh in a row, inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points and Russell Westbrook had 29.
“It’s not their full complement of players, and I think we continued to evolve and get better,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said. “I think we can hopefully learn and get better from this game. I still think, for us, it’s about getting more consistent all the way through.
“For our team, I’ve seen steady growth and I’d like to continue to see that. They have gotten better and we want to keep getting better.”
Donovan said he wasn’t even considering resting his starters even after learning San Antonio was planning on it.
“Just because San Antonio made a decision that’s best for them, we (don’t) have to do the same thing here,” Donovan said. “It has nothing to do with who we’re playing. It’s about what’s best for us. If we need to do that, we’ll do that. I never thought we should have rested our guys today.”
The Thunder, who had won their past six games by an average margin of more than 16 points, took advantage of the Spurs resting four of their five regular starters.
Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps), LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker didn’t suit up for San Antonio. Neither did sixth man Manu Ginobili.
In their absence, David West and Jonathon Simmons each had 17 points to lead the Spurs.
“We had a lot of young guys get some time and found out some other things about certain players and certain situations,” Popovich said. “That what you try to do. We will take all the positives from it.”
The Thunder used their regular lineup and after a sluggish first half eventually got going.
“It was going to be a different game,” Donovan said. “It’s a challenging game to play because as you are getting prepared, it takes time to get adjusted. We got better and better as the game wore on.”
Oklahoma City went on a 8-0 run midway through the third quarter to open up a 13-point lead with 4:05 left in the quarter. The Thunder eventually outscored the Spurs 35-19 in the quarter — the most points given up by the Spurs in a quarter this season.
Westbrook said he didn’t care what players were suiting up for the Spurs.
“Honestly, I’m playing the same night no matter who we’re playing,” he said.
Both teams are virtually locked into their playoff positions in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City will likely be the No. 3 seed and San Antonio figures to be No. 2 behind Golden State, leaving Saturday’s matchup without much of a dramatic feel.
“It wasn’t on us that they didn’t play their starters,” Durant said. “We just have to continue to play our game and stick to what we do. We got stops and we ran out and got easy points.”
Oklahoma City did, but it took a bit of time. The Thunder trailed in the first quarter and led just 48-44 at halftime.
“We are professional,” said San Antonio’s West. “When you are down a few guys like we are in a game like this, you almost have to be mistake-free to give yourself a chance. We’ve just got to take it as what it is.”
All five Thunder starters were still in the game with four minutes to play and the Thunder ahead by 16.
Westbrook finished the first half with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and Durant had 13 points and seven rebounds before the break.
Durant scored more than 20 points for the 58th game in a row. He’s the first player since 2006 (Kobe Bryant) to have a streak that long. He was 13 of 20 from the field and made 5 of 7 3-pointers. He also had 10 rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and Gregg Popovich continued his climb up the NBA’s career wins list as the visiting San Antonio Spurs defeated the Detroit Pistons 119-107 on Monday.
Popovich earned the 1,221st victory of his career, tying him with Jerry Sloan for third on the NBA’s all-time list among coaches. The 23rd-year Spurs coach trails only Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).
San Antonio dominated the last three quarters after falling behind early. Just as they did against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, the Pistons got off to a good start, jumping out to a 21-9 lead with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting for the Spurs, who have won five straight and six of their last seven. Blake Griffin had 34 points and eight assists, and Andre Drummond had 19 points and 14 rebounds in defeat for the Pistons, who have lost five of six.
Rockets 125, Nuggets 113
James Harden produced another sparkling double-double but this time received plenty of help as Houston extended its home-court winning streak to 10 games with a victory over Western Conference-leading Denver.
Harden paired 32 points with 14 assists. The Rockets also received a career-high 31 points from center Clint Capela (plus nine rebounds) and 21 points apiece from P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green. The Rockets bounced back after having their six-game win streak end Saturday against the Trail Blazers.
Houston finished 22 of 47 from behind the arc to outflank the Nuggets, who had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost to the Rockets for the second time this season. Nikola Jokic paced Denver with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Celtics 116, Nets 95
Marcus Smart drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the first quarter to begin a game-changing run by host Boston, which went on to beat Brooklyn.
The Celtics have won three straight and four of five. The Nets, who were trying to reach .500 beyond the midway point of the season for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign, had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the fourth time in the last 16 games.
Kylie Irving, who returned after missing two games with a left eye injury, scored 17 points to lead a balanced Celtics attack. Seven other players scored in double figures for Boston. Rookie Rodions Kurucs scored 24 points and drained five 3-pointers for the Nets.
Bucks 114, Jazz 102
Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 30 points and 10 rebounds to help Milwaukee register a win over visiting Utah.
Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points for the Bucks, who won for the 10th time in their past 12 games. Brook Lopez contributed 15 points and eight rebounds, Thon Maker also scored 15 and Khris Middleton had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points for the Jazz but missed all five shots while going scoreless in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert added 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Lakers 107, Mavericks 97
Los Angeles put together a dominant third quarter to rally from a 15-point deficit and win at Dallas.
Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 29 points, Lonzo Ball had 21 and Michael Beasley, with 13 points, was key contributor in a third quarter the Lakers won 32-13. Los Angeles earned just its second victory in seven games playing without injured star LeBron James.
Mavs rookie Luka Doncic finished with a team-high 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Pelicans 114, Grizzlies 95
Anthony Davis had 36 points and 13 rebounds as host New Orleans defeated Memphis. The Pelicans, who handed the Cavaliers their ninth consecutive loss on Saturday in Cleveland, gave the Grizzlies their sixth consecutive loss.
The Pelicans last won consecutive games during a three-game winning streak from Nov. 16-19. Memphis dropped to 3-13 since a 107-103 victory against the host Pelicans on Dec. 7.
Frank Jackson came off the bench to add 17 points for the Pelicans. Mike Conley led Memphis with 22 points and 10 assists, JaMychal Green came off the Grizzlies’ bench to score 16.
Kings 111, Magic 95
De’Aaron Fox led a balanced attack with 20 points as host Sacramento followed up a record-setting shooting performance with one of its best defensive efforts of the season in a victory over travel-weary Orlando.
The Kings limited the Magic to 36.8 percent shooting and the third-lowest scoring output for a Sacramento opponent this season en route to their second straight season-series sweep of Orlando.
Terrence Ross came off the bench to score 20 points for the Magic, who were playing their fifth straight on the road and second in two days, having lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Trail Blazers 111, Knicks 101
Jusuf Nurkic scored 20 points to lead six Trail Blazers in double figures as Portland swept to a victory over visiting New York.
CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard both added 17 points, and Lillard had nine assists for the Trail Blazers, who won for the ninth time in 13 games. Seth Curry scored 13 points, and Jake Layman and Evan Turner had 10 apiece for Portland.
Enes Kanter came off the bench for 18 points and 14 rebounds, Emmanuel Mudiay scored 17 points, and Noah Vonleh contributed 16 points and 14 boards for the Knicks, who have lost in 14 of their past 16 outings.
Dec 12, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) runs back up the court during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeat the Spurs 95-89. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – Highlights of National Basketball Association games on Tuesday:
Mavericks 95, Spurs 89
Kawhi Leonard made his long-anticipated season debut Tuesday and looked to be in mid-season form, although his San Antonio Spurs fell apart in the fourth quarter without him and lost to the Dallas Mavericks 95-89.
The Spurs’ All-Star forward missed the first 27 games of the season because of a quad injury. He quickly displayed his all-around excellence, producing 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting and adding six rebounds, one assist, one steal and a block.
Leonard did it all in 16 minutes as coach Gregg Popovich promised a gradual reintroduction. Leonard’s lone offensive rebound was a tip-out to himself that led to a bucket for a 55-50 San Antonio lead, and Popovich pulled him for good soon after.
The Mavericks, sparked by guard J.J. Barea’s aggressive drives to the basket, opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run, went up 91-80 with 4:01 to go and held on to snap the Spurs’ four-game winning streak as well as end their own three-game skid.
76ers 118, Timberwolves 112 (OT)
Joel Embiid had 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, and J.J. Redick scored 26 points as Philadelphia pulled out an overtime victory over Minnesota.
Ben Simmons was held scoreless until 1:17 remained in regulation, but he ended up with seven points and eight assists for Philadelphia. The 76ers snapped a four-game losing streak by scoring the first six points of overtime and holding on in the back-and-forth game.
Jimmy Butler scored a season-high 38 points for Timberwolves, who shot only 40.7 percent from the field. Karl-Anthony Towns had his league-leading 22nd double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points for Minnesota.
Knicks 113, Lakers 109 (OT)
Kristaps Porzingis scored 37 points as New York emerged with an overtime victory over Los Angeles.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope paced the Lakers with 24 points. Los Angeles rookies Lonzo Ball (17 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Kyle Kuzma (19 points) played well in their Madison Square Garden debuts.
Kuzma hit a 3-pointer with 23.9 seconds left to tie the game at 99, but New York’s Michael Beasley had two baskets and an assist on a Doug McDermott layup during a 69-second run in overtime to give the Knicks a six-point lead they would not relinquish.
Cavaliers 123, Hawks 114
Setting a season high with 20 3-pointers, Cleveland topped Atlanta.
LeBron James scored 25 points and tied a career high with 17 assists. He made two 3-pointers. Kyle Korver (19 points) drained six 3-pointers, and Kevin Love (17 points, 12 rebounds) added four treys, as did Jose Calderon (14 points, tying a season high).
Taurean Prince paced the Hawks with 24 points, and Kent Bazemore added 20.
Nuggets 103, Pistons 84
Jamal Murray fired in 28 points and reserve Trey Lyles tossed in 20, leading Denver to the easy victory over slumping Detroit.
Wilson Chandler scored 18 points, while Mason Plumlee supplied 10 points and a season-high 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who never trailed. Gary Harris added eight points, six rebounds, nine assists and four steals.
The Pistons lost their seventh straight, their longest skid since dropping 10 in a row during February and March 2015. Langston Galloway led Detroit with 18 points.
Nets 103, Wizards 98
Allen Crabbe shook off a rough shooting night to hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 44 seconds left as Brooklyn beat Washington.
Crabbe was among seven Nets in double figures, finishing with 13 points. He shot 3 of 15 overall, 3 of 14 from 3-point range on a night when Brooklyn made 23.3 percent from long range.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 28 points but only scored three points in the fourth quarter. He shot 11 of 33 and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.
Kings 99, Suns 92
Zach Randolph scored 11 of his 17 points during the final five minutes, and his three-point play with 44.9 seconds left helped lift Sacramento past Phoenix.
George Hill scored 18 points, and Buddy Hield contributed 14 points off the bench as Sacramento ended a three-game home losing streak.
TJ Warren scored 18 points to lead the Suns, who have dropped four in a row and nine of their past 11. Reserve Mike James scored 17 points in 20 minutes, Tyler Ulis added 10 points, and Tyson Chandler had seven points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix.
May 22, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) leaves the court after game four of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili walked off the AT&T Center court for perhaps the final time in his brilliant career on Monday, showered with cheers from the home crowd and respect from both teams.
With Golden State completing an inevitable 4-0 series sweep over the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, the contest became an ode to Argentinian great Ginobili who may announce his retirement this off-season after 15 years in the NBA.
With the end a possibility for the 39-year-old Ginobili, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich put his veteran in the starting lineup for the first time this campaign.
Ginobili responded with 15 points, seven assists and some vintage moments as the crowd chanted “Manu, Manu” throughout the night.
“I started him tonight out of respect. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to honor him in front of our fans,” Popovich told reporters after the Spurs lost 129-115 to the Warriors, who applauded Ginobili as he left the court in the fourth quarter.
“He deserves to have that night of respect to feel we appreciate everything he has done over the years.”
Drafted by San Antonio in 1999, Ginobili did not break into the league until the 2002-03 campaign, but quickly made an impact with his left-handed play-making wizardry.
A four-time NBA champion who willingly accepted a sixth man role with the Spurs despite his talent and profile, Ginobili has yet to decide if he will return or fade off into retirement.
“I always said I wanted to let it sink in for three weeks, whatever. Sit with my wife and see how it feels,” Ginobili said. “I have to choose between two wonderful options.
“One is to keep playing in this league at this age enjoying playing a sport I still love. The other one is to stay at home and be a dad, enjoy my whole family and spend time with them. Whatever I decide to do, I’ll be a happy camper.”
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O’Brien)
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