One hundred and twenty-four days.
That's how long you have to wait until the NBA Playoffs, Thunder fans. And in case you were wondering, it's going to feel like a long wait.
That much was clear Monday night at The Peake. The Spurs came to town to face the Thunder, and it was close to a playoff atmosphere as we've seen so far this season. It made you long for postseason basketball.
Thunder 107, Spurs 93.
It was grand.
Can the playoffs start now?
The boys in blue played about as well as you'd imagine they could for the first three quarters of this game. They shot it well. They rebounded it well. They shared it well. They defended it well.
The Thunder built an 18-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
Against the Spurs.
That sort of thing just doesn't happen.
“When you play them, you have to have second and third efforts,” Thunder reserve Nick Collison said. “They're gonna run pick-and-roll one side, and you're going to have to close out. The guy's gonna drive and kick to somebody else, and you're going to have to continue to play for the whole 24 seconds.
“It's definitely an effort game when you play them.”
Thunder fans know that well after last season's epic series against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Every game was a battle. Every possession was a grind.
But on this night, the Thunder made things look easier than in that come-from-behind, six-game playoff series victory.
The Thunder beat down the Spurs so thoroughly that Gregg Popovich benched his starters the entire fourth quarter. The Spurs coach left Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Co. on the bench as his subs whittled down that 18-point, fourth-quarter deficit.
At least Pop didn't send the starters back to San Antonio.
“We just know that the Spurs are a good team,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They're going to give you their best shot. They play every possession on both ends of the floor.”
But the Thunder more than matched the Spurs.
It started with Serge Ibaka. He hit his first seven shots of the game, including six in the first quarter. The Spurs had to be wondering if they were watching a repeat of Game 4 from the conference finals.
All that Serge did that night was go 11 for 11.
He didn't have as good a shooting night Monday, but he had a better performance. He scored 25 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
Maybe Stephen Jackson will spell his name right next time.
Then, there was Kevin Martin. A year after super sub James Harden gave the Spurs fits, the Thunder's new first man off the bench had a big night.
He scored 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting.
The Thunder seemed to do everything better than the Spurs. It got more rebounds, 49 to 37. It forced more turnovers, 16 to 12. It blocked more shots, seven to four.
It played with more intensity, too.
Late in the third quarter, Spurs point guard Tony Parker made one of his signature drives through the lane, dodging defenders and seemingly defying physics. He got to the rim and looked to have an easy basket.
Out of nowhere, Kevin Durant swooped in and swatted his shot.
Russell Westbrook grabbed the board, pushed the ball quickly down court and kicked to a wide open Thabo Sefolosha.
But Collison battled Tim Duncan for the ball, batting it into the air a couple of times until he could secure it and put it back in for a basket.
The Peake erupted when he did.
“We always have to make an extra push against these guys,” Durant said. “You have to be on point with every play because they expose all of your mistakes.
“I think we did a good job of just playing hard and playing together.”
No doubt about that.
Of course, a December win does not a playoff series win. This game will mean nothing if these two teams meet in the playoffs.
But on Monday night with The Peake rocking and the Thunder humming and the Spurs visiting, it was fun to imagine these teams could meet again in the playoffs.
Too bad the playoffs don't even start until April 20.
It's going to be a long four months and two days.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.