Entering the first game of a back-to-back set, the Thunder faltered to the Spurs 112-102. This game elevated the Spurs (6-5) to the eight seed in the West while dropping back the Thunder (5-5) to the ninth seed in the conference.
San Antonio collected their hard fought victory through a plethora of options, with six members scoring in double-figures. Lonnie Walker IV led San Antonio in scoring, piling up 24 points (7-15) in the meeting. Keldon Johnson chipped in 18 of his own (6-11) while tacking on 7 rebounds of his own, while Patty Mills converted on seven shots for a total of 17 points. Dejounte Murray tacked on 16 while forwards Lamarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay put in 13 and 12 respectively.
The Spurs’ tenacity around the rim was their money-maker, with 36 points coming inside and having 22 shots at the charity stripe due to their efforts inside, in which they hit 20. However; the main accomplice in the win came from the slippery hands of the Thunder. Oklahoma City coughed up 13 turnovers, being a benefactor for a grand total of 26 Spurs points.
Oklahoma City employed a similar course of action to that of San Antonio, with the majority of their shots coming from hard drives in the paint, accounting for 50 of their points.These successes inside gave Spurs players no choice but to swipe on drives, enabling the Thunder to shoot 29 free throws, but struggling, only cashing in on 23.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander posted a team high 20 points (7-10) in the game with 9 boards and 2 assists. Hamidou Diallo continued his stretch of dominance on Thursday, lighting up defenders with 16 points on 5-9 shooting. Four other Thunder players found themselves in double-figures with Bazley, Dort, and Hill racking up 12 and Al Horford, who scored 10. However; the lack of efficiency amongst these players was glaring, and these struggles trickled down to the entire team, who shot just a bare 43%.
This game was neck-and-neck through the opening stages of the game, but a 15-5 Spurs run in the second busted this game wide open giving them an eight point edge come half. A Thunder run to open the third had this game knotted back up to even, but Lonnie Walker and Keldon Johnshon turned up a notch giving leeway for the Spurs to take back their seven point lead to enter the fourth.
Despite a prominent effort by Diallo to start the period, scoring four in the first two minutes, Lonnie Walker fired back with a pair of triples. The Spurs lead remained grounded through the first six, but the Thunder had a golden opportunity to cut the deficit to a one possession lead with just a tick under two to go. Darius Bazely drove right inside of paint, putting on display a nifty eurostep move, but laying the ball up short. After two Lonnie Walker free throws, the nail appeared to be in the coffin, but an SGA layup to put the game to six with 40 seconds to go gave hope. An inbound steal from Lu Dort set up an open redemption shot for Darius Bazely from the left wing. The ball rattled around the hoop before being coughed out, giving way for a thirty-second free throw contest the Spurs passed, giving them a 112-102 win.
The Thunder’s gameplan in this one was nothing short of an enigma. Entering Tuesday’s game the Thunder shot just below 40 three balls a game, in this one however, they only shot 26, converting on just 7 (27%.)
Oklahoma City will have a shot to redeem themselves as they will play their second game of their back-to-back set against the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers (9-3.)