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OKC Thunder: Western Conference race tightens up

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, Published: March 17, 2012

Meanwhile, San Antonio remains the NBA's Rock of Gibraltar, somehow winning roughly 70 percent of its games despite being without one of its best players in Manu Ginobili, who has missed 28 of 42 games, including Friday night against the Thunder.

"We had a great night," Popovich said afterward. "Oklahoma City had a tough start. They missed some easy shots inside and couldn't get a jumper to fall so we were able to get a lead."

Before the game, Popovich couldn't come up with an answer on how to slow down the Thunder.

"One does not slow them down much, I don't think," Popovich said. "They're going to run. They're talented, deep, well-coached. It's a helluva team and it's become a great organization. Whenever anybody plays Oak City, it's a challenge for them because so many good things at both ends of the court."

Turns out OKC slowed itself down, shooting just 30.4 percent (7 for 23) from the field in the first quarter, and that's with James Harden converting a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Thunder's shooting improved slightly each quarter thereafter, but it wasn't enough to overcome the team that's gaining in the rearview mirror.