It was no different tonight, and despite the fact that neither team dominated the other, the Thunder only established a difference in the fourth quarter and held onto it on their way to a 111-105 win.
While it’s no secret that the Spurs were shorthanded on the offensive end of the court due to some notable absences – Kawhi Leonard broke a finger in his shooting hand through the second quarter and both Danny Green and Tiago Splitter have already been sidelined for a while — that can’t be used as an excuse for tonight’s loss. It seems like the Thunder already knows how to play against the Spurs and the three wins in equal number of games this year does nothing but confirm that.
The Spurs were unable to control Kevin Durant – who finished with 35 points, seven rebounds and five assists – and he had a solid offensive complement in Reggie Jackson, who scored a career-high 27 points to go along with eight assists. Jackson has scored more than 20 points in the three games against San Antonio this season and aside from filling Russell Westbrook’s shoes effectively, he’s becoming the Spurs-killer James Harden once was only a few years ago.
The loss could end up being big for the Spurs at the end of the regular season. Since the Thunder already has a 3-0 lead in the season series against San Antonio, they hold an edge in the tie-breaker in case both teams end up with the same record, meaning that a possible Game 7 would have to be played at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The injuries might have played a part, as Gregg Popovich had to depend on guys he usually doesn’t late in the game like Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Marco Belinelli, but that can’t hide the fact that the Spurs don’t seem able to be effective against the top teams in the NBA. They added another loss to their total against the Thunder this season and unless they find a way to turn things around, that doesn’t bode well for the team’s playoff chances.