The San Antonio Spurs entered Thursday night's game at the Oklahoma City Thunder riding a 19-game winning streak and clearly looking like the NBA's hottest team. Unfortunately for them, sometimes matchups override everything else.
Despite entering halftime down three points, the Thunder looked like the better team on the night and came away with a 106-94 win. A 32-20 third-quarter advantage turned the tide, and the Spurs neglected to bring Tony Parker and Tim Duncan back on the floor in the fourth quarter with a comeback looking unlikely.
OKC's big highlight was this steal of an inbounds pass and subsequent athletic slam from point guard Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter:
Westbrook was the team's top performer with 27 points (10-of-20 from the field), six assists, and four steals in just over 30 minutes of play, but Kevin Durant figures to get most of the media attention. With 28 points (on a relatively inefficient 26 field goal attempts), Durant extended his streak of 25-plus scoring games to 39 games, the most since Michael Jordan's 40-game run during the 1986-87 season. The Thunder play again on Friday at the Houston Rockets. If Durant scores 25 points in that game, he'd have a chance to pass Jordan on Sunday night at the Phoenix Suns.
The Spurs will probably not be particularly sad to see their winning streak end. On Monday, when the streak was at 18 wins, Parker joked that head coach Gregg Popovich likely would prefer for the streak to end sooner rather than later. On the same day, Popovich told media that the team does not set numerical goals beyond playing their best come playoff time. The end of a regular-season winning streak won't keep them up at night.
That's not to say that this loss was a bed of roses and gumdrops. The Spurs have now failed to win any of their four games against the Thunder this season, with two of those losses coming by double digits. Although the Spurs figure to have homecourt advantage through the conference finals, the Thunder represent their toughest matchup by a considerable margin. They can take some solace in the fact that longtime catalyst Manu Ginobili sat out Thursday's game, but they clearly have more trouble OKC than they do with any other contender.
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