With Reggie Jackson out after an early injury, Thunder coach Scott Brooks went with Jeremy Lamb in his place.
Lamb, who struggled defensively guarding Manu Ginobili in Game 3, performed much better overall in Game 4.
Lamb quickly picked off a Danny Green pass and turned it into two free throws on the other end, then had a steal on Boris Diaw a few possessions later as the Thunder steadily chipped away at San Antonio’s early lead.
While Lamb was on the floor in the first half, the Thunder outscored San Antonio by 17.
The Thunder was minus-7 with Lamb on the floor in its Game 3 win.
“He has to keep playing with a lot of confidence and give us energy and make an impact on both ends,” Brooks said. “We expect two-way players, and we have to focus on that. I think he was solid tonight.”
SPURS BENCH CLOSES THE GAP AGAIN
For the second consecutive game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich emptied his bench relatively early with the Thunder well in control.
And for the second time, the Spurs bench — led by Cory Joseph, Jeff Ayres and Matt Bonner —helped close the gap late.
Tuesday, the Thunder were down 19 with 5:40 remaining and the lead went down to 12. In Game 3, Oklahoma City led by 20 with four minutes left and won by nine.
Ginobili said there were lessons to be learned from their performance.
“That ball movement helps,” Ginobili said. “If we are going to play against them five-on-five every time, their athleticism and their strength and size is hard to overcome so we’ve got to try to speed up the game a little bit, get them moving more. So it was good to see them perform like that and be so aggressive and create so much movement. They played really well.”
Popovich said he didn’t consider re-inserting his starters late.
“Thursday,” Popovich answered when asked why not, referring to Game 5 in San Antonio.
OKC BOMB SQUAD CHECKS PACKAGE
Not long after the end of Tuesday’s game, the Oklahoma City Police Department’s bomb squad was sent to check out a suspicious package in the concourse between the Cox Convention Center and the Renaissance Hotel not far from Chesapeake Energy Arena.