NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, December 21st
(All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (21-4) at San Antonio Spurs (21-5), 8:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Home or away, the Oklahoma City Thunder are a formidable
They will be put to the test Saturday night when they visit the San Antonio
Spurs in a battle of Western Conference powers and division leaders.
Oklahoma City has won eight in a row and 16 of its last 17 games, and pushed
its unbeaten home record to 13-0 with Thursday's 107-95 victory versus the
Chicago Bulls. Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer at 28.7 ppg, scored 32
points on 13-of-20 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and handed out six assists.
Russell Westbrook added 20 points and 10 assists, while Reggie Jackson ended
with 18 points off the bench for the Thunder, who lead the Northwest Division
over a talented Portland squad OKC shot 51.2 percent from the floor and made
60 percent from 3-point territory (9-of-15).
The Thunder also scored 26 points off 17 Chicago turnovers and are averaging
109.9 points per game during the winning streak. OKC used a 13-4 run to start
the second half and break open a three-point lead. It eventually led by as
many as 19 points over the last two quarters.
"I thought we did a good job in the second half of really being active on the
ball and pushing them out of their comfort zone," Thunder coach Scott Brooks
Brooks' squad has won four in a row on the road and is 8-4 as the visitor.
Westbrook, meanwhile, has recorded four straight double-doubles and has scored
20 or more points in three straight games. Durant has hit the 30-point mark
six times in the last nine games.
San Antonio will play three straight at home versus Oklahoma City, Toronto and
Houston, and is 9-2 in the Alamo City.
The Spurs completed a four-game road trip (3-1) with Thursday's 104-102
victory at Golden State, as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker all
missed the game and Marco Belinelli scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-16
Belinelli's jumper with 6.9 seconds left was off the mark and Boris Diaw came
up with the rebound. Diaw missed his layup attempt, but Tiago Splitter was
there to tip in the miss and break the tie with 2.1 seconds left.
Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills deposited season-highs with 21 and 20 points,
respectively, for the Spurs, who have won six of their last seven games and
proved to be a solid unit without their top players.
"It happens a lot in the league, when players are hurt and other players want
to prove something. They want to show the coach they should be getting more
minutes. The coach doesn't know what...he's doing, so to speak, so they come
out and play hard," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Parker missed his second straight game because of a right shin contusion,
while Duncan and Ginobili were held out to rest. All three are expected to be
back on the floor Saturday with Oklahoma City in town.
The Spurs and Thunder will play the second of four meetings this season, and
Oklahoma City took the first matchup, 94-88, on Nov. 27 at home. Durant scored
24 points, 13 of which came during a dominant second half, and the Thunder
have won three of the past four games in this series.
Oklahoma City, though, is winless in six straight and 16 of 19 trips to the
12/21 10:30:04 ET