By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma City smoked San Antonio 107-93 on Monday night, avenging a season-opening loss and extending an 11-game win streak. The Thunder are now 20-4 this season. Here’s some rapid reaction:
It was typical Thunder-Spurs for much of the first half. Play was rough, physical and competitive, leaving the score close at intermission. But the Spurs, playing their seventh of eight games in 12 days, ran out of gas. And the Thunder pounced, completing the back end of an undefeated homestand with an end-to-end energized effort. It was keyed by an 11-0 run early in the third quarter, sparked by Nick Collison’s insertion into the game. He had two rebound-putbacks during the quick spurt, reassuring the roaring home crowd why they love him so much.
It was over when…
…The Thunder stars finally put away San Antonio’s pesky and underrated second unit. Trailing by 18 entering the fourth, the Spurs reserves cut OKC’s advantage to single-digits, highlighted by DuJuan Blair’s open court pick of Kevin Durant (wait, what?). But feeling threatened, the Thunder responded, ending the game on a 14-9 run.
Star of the game – Serge Ibaka
For much of the night, Ibaka was the best player on the floor (KD and Westbrook included), dominating the offensive interior and intimidating on the defensive end. Air Congo finished with 25 points (tying a career high), 17 rebounds (a season-high) and three blocks. How’s that for a response to Steven Jackson’s Twitter comment?
Stat of the game
Kevin Durant’s streak of 12 straight games as the Thunder’s leading scorer was snapped. KD had only 19 points, behind Ibaka (25), Russell Westbrook (22) and Kevin Martin (20). Part of that was a lack of aggression (mainly because it wasn’t needed). He only took 13 shots (four more than Kendrick Perkins).
Peek at the standings
At 20-4, the Thunder continue to build on the league’s best record. And with Monday’s win, OKC now sits two games in front of the Clippers and Spurs for the top seed in the Western conference. It’s still early, but Scott Brooks’ crew is rolling.
GIF of the game
Kendrick Perkins admiring one of his rarely successful mid-range J’s. Looks like a praying mantis.
(The best part is Popovich at the end, basically saying ‘Timeout, if he’s hitting that we got no chance’)
No extra circulars between the two (despite Jackson’s Twitter threat), but Ibaka did plenty of talking with his play on the court.
The first part of the Thunder’s schedule was road heavy, ending Monday night with the successful completion of an undefeated five-game homestand. Now it’s out on the road for the majority of the next couple months, starting with a three-game trip that begins in Atlanta Wednesday night. And OKC will be looking for revenge, trying to avenge a 104-95 home loss to the Hawks earlier this year.