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
"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
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
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
[to top of second column]
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
"Honestly, I'm playing the same night no matter who we're playing,"
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
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.
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