Heading into the third quarter on Monday, the San Antonio Spurs were only trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder by five points. However 12 minutes of basketball can make a huge impact as the Spurs ended up going into the fourth quarter down 18 points.
The Thunder used an instrumental defensive third quarter to put the clamps on the Spurs as they held the Spurs to making 6-of-18 shots, six turnovers, and only scoring 16 points in the quarter, while Oklahoma City put up 29 points on the scoreboard.
The Spurs were once again depleted on the perimeter Monday as Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard didn’t play, but they got a familiar face back on the bench as Stephen Jackson made his return to the court.
Here’s the rundown of the Spurs’ loss in Oklahoma City, where for one half it looked like a competitive game, then it turned into a blow out, and in the end a French kid tried to bring the team back but it wasn’t enough against a team that won its 11th game in a row.
First Quarter: Spurs 26, Thunder 30
The Spurs hung with the Thunder for the majority of the first quarter but then toward the end of the quarter the Thunder went on an 8-0 run to hold a momentary seven-point lead. Danny Green would hit a three before the buzzer to end the quarter. Tony Parker (14 points, 7 assists) led the Spurs with nine points, while Serge Ibaka (25 points, 17 rebounds) had 12 points and Kevin Durant (19 points) had six points.
Second Quarter: Spurs 48, Thunder 53
Kevin Martin (20 points) came out firing to start the second quarter, but a balanced attack from the Spurs would keep the Spurs within reach. The Thunder went on a 9-0 run late in the quarter, but the Spurs were able to close the gap with their own 5-0 run before going into the half. By half, Tiago Splitter had 10 points, Parker had nine points and six assists, while Ibaka had 16 points, Martin 13 points, and Durant and Russell Westbrook (22 points, 9 assists) each had 10 points.
Third Quarter: Spurs 64, Thunder 82
In the third, the Thunder gained immense separation from the Spurs as they put the clamps down on defense and went on a 14-0 run that busted the game open to 15 points in their favor. Once the starters went to the bench, the Thunder would continue to maintain the large lead as the Spurs’ offense just couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm. The Thunder outscored the Spurs 29-16 in the third, by really limiting the Spurs from running their offense effectively.
Fourth Quarter: Spurs 93, Thunder 107
Turnovers: Spurs 16, Thunder 12
None of the Spurs’ starters played in the fourth quarter but a group comprised of Nando De Colo, Patty Mills, James Anderson, Matt Bonner, and DeJuan Blair held their own against the Thunder starters as the reserves pushed the Thunder lead down to nine points in the fourth quarter. Though Ibaka, Durant, and company would eventually pull away in the final two minutes, the Spurs ended up outscoring the Thunder for the first time all night 29-25.
Turnovers were once again a problem for the Spurs as even their reserves had trouble holding onto the ball and not passing it to the players in the blue and white. De Colo in particular had a big fourth quarter as he scored eight points in the quarter, to finish with 14 points and six assists.
The Spurs lost their third straight road game and moved to 19-7 on the season. The team will have a chance at earning its 20th win of the season as they fly to Denver to face the Nuggets on Tuesday in another back-to-back game. The Thunder’s winning streak improved to 11 games as they are now the first team in the NBA to reach 20 wins.