Thunder victory snaps Spurs' win streak

Michael Kinney, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Guard Reggie Jackson is a man of few words. The third-year Oklahoma City guard isn't one to sing his own praises.
But after tying a career high by scoring 23 points in the Thunder's 94-88 win over the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday, Jackson found a way to describe his performance when he slid on a multi-colored backpack with the words "Game Over" printed on the back. That was really all he needed to say about his performance in helping Oklahoma City end the Spurs' 11-game win streak at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
However, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was more to the point.
"Reggie Jackson kicked our butts," Popovich said.
The loss not only ended the Spurs' win streak, but it pushed the Thunder's winning streak up to five. But it took some tough defense and timely shots at the end to make it happen.
With three minutes left in the game, the Spurs (13-2) trailed the Thunder (10-3) 83-77. Forward Kawhi Leonard drove the lane with a chance to cut deficit to four points. However, Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka altered the shot and got the rebound.
"Serge was really big tonight," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He's been like that for 10 games or so. He's been consistent and that's what we love about what he's doing."
Forward Kevin Durant made the Spurs pay when he was fouled while attacking the rim for a tough layup. The 3-point play put the Thunder up by eight.
Guard Marco Bellinelli made a couple of baskets to get the Spurs to within seven. But once again, Durant found a way to put points on the board when he got Leonard to foul him and send him to the line for a pair of free throws.
Jackson and the Thunder made their free throws down the stretch to hold off the Spurs.
Durant had a game-high 24 points, 13 rebounds and six turnovers. Ibaka added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Russell Westbrook shot 2-for-16 and was held to six points and eight assists.
Guard Tony Parker paced the Spurs with 16 points and seven assists. Leonard chipped in with 14 points and forward Tim Duncan scored 11 in the loss.
"We didn't shoot the ball well," Duncan said. "We made too many mistakes. They found people to play better than us."
The Thunder bench was on fire early, led by Jeremy Lamb (12 points) and Jackson. After the team fell behind by seven in the first period, they helped Oklahoma City tie the game at 32-32 midway through the second.
"We're just another athletic backcourt that's always in attack mode," Jackson said. "Trying to find shots for ourselves and others."
However, San Antonio outscored the Thunder 14-11 the rest of the quarter as the Thunder's two stars struggled to find their game. Westbrook shot 1-for-11 from the field while Durant was only slightly better at 5-for-13. Yet, the Spurs only led 46-43 at halftime.
Oklahoma City's shooting didn't improve in the third, but its defense did. They contested every San Antonio shot and were on the floor going after all loose balls and they flew out to a 68-61 lead at the end of the quarter.
Oklahoma City pulled ahead by double digits in the fourth quarter behind its bench. Jackson torched the Spurs in the first three minutes and the game looked like it was over.
"He was aggressive all night getting to the rim," Durant said of Jackson. "That's what he does. Nobody can stay in front of him. When he's aggressive to the rim, that's what we need from. He gave us a nice spark. Him and Jeremy. Those guys were the reason we won the basketball game."
NOTES: Starting with its trip to Oklahoma, San Antonio's schedule will get increasingly tougher. Next up are contests against the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers. Yet, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks is not surprised with the start the Spurs have gotten off to already. "They've done nothing different," Brooks said. "They started another season. That's what they do and do it every year. Next year they will be in the same position." ... Oklahoma City G Jeremy Lamb will start to see more time at the point guard spot in certain situations for the Thunder. The second-year pro took over the position in the fourth quarter against Utah Sunday and Brooks said he saw something he liked. ... Even though neither Brooks nor San Antonio coach Greg Popovich said this game meant more than any of the other 81 games on the schedule, they did admit it can be used as a teaching tool. "It doesn't matter who you are playing, what matters is how you are playing," Popovich said. "But obviously playing a good team can probably teach you more than playing a team that's not very good. Without a doubt."

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