SAN ANTONIO — Every win count the same in the standings. But some are statement wins.
The Thunder's 101-98 win over the Spurs Saturday night in front of a sellout AT&T Center crowd sent a message a young team many are labeling a team-on-the-rise squad is learning how to close out wins, even on the road against elite competition.
“This is a really good road win for us, coming in to their home floor, where they've won championships,” said Kevin Durant. “Coming into this game a lot of people might have said Oklahoma City has no chance. But we played hard. Our push in the third quarter is what won the game for us.”
All three young Thunder stars played key roles but this truly was a team effort.
Russell Westbrook scored 19 points, dished out 11 assists with zero turnovers.
Jeff Green had a double-double (21 points and 10 rebounds).
Durant hit some big free throws at the end and scored 25 points, the majority (20) coming in the first half when the Spurs were threatening to build a huge lead.
Nenad Krstic scored 11 points, had two steals and three blocks, including a critical block of George Hill with just over two minutes left.
Thabo Sefolosha had four steals, including stripping Richard Jefferson with :14 left when the lead was only 99-96.
“This is a big confidence boost but we have another game (Sunday) night,” Sefolosha said. “The key is having this type of effort every night.”
If you had to pick one star it would be Westbrook, who made good decisions the entire game and arguably hit the biggest shot — a running scoop shot with :45.8 left to push the lead to 96-91.
“That was one of Russell's best games,” said coach Scott Brooks. “He led the team. He was solid, making the right decisions. Eleven assists and zero turnovers, that's a pretty good ratio.”
Westbrook said the slightly sprained ankle he suffered Wednesday night in Los Angeles is still a little tender but you couldn't tell by his play.
“This does a lot for us anytime we get good wins on the road,” said Westbrook.