Thunder beats Spurs to win third game in three nights

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: January 8, 2012

Prior to Sunday night's game inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, Thunder coach Scott Brooks freely admitted he wasn't sure what to expect from his team.

OKC was about to play the final game of its back-to-back-to-back sequence and earlier in the day had learned reserve point guard Eric Maynor was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Adding to the degree of difficulty, the Thunder was about to face the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise that won 61 games last season and on numerous occasions has toyed with OKC in previous meetings.

“I have no clue how we're going to respond,” Brooks said 90 minutes before tipoff.

The answer came in a 108-96 victory that was so thorough, Thunder starters never left the bench the entire fourth quarter and many in the sellout crowd of 18,203 started heading to the exits with five minutes remaining – against the San Antonio Spurs.

Two necessary disclaimers: The Spurs were without all-purpose guard Manu Ginobili, who is out six weeks with a broken bone in his left (shooting) hand; San Antonio also was suffering from battle fatigue, playing their fourth game in the last five nights.

Nonetheless, all is fair when you're forced to play 66 games in 118 days.

The last time NBA players had to play back-to-back-to-back games was in the 50-game season of 1998-99. That year, 64 BTBTBs were played and there were only eight sweeps.

This season, all six teams that have completed BTBTB series thus far have won their final contest. The Thunder is the first team to go 3-0, however.

The Spurs trailed only 54-51 early in the third quarter, but the Thunder blew the game open by outscoring San Antonio 37-18 the rest of the quarter to lead 91-69. The Thunder's biggest lead was 25 with 7½ minutes left in the contest.

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