Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) tries to get past San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (2) during the the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Once again, it was the backup unit that sparked OKC, even without the rock-solid Maynor.
The starters wound up barely outscoring the backups, 55-53. Nine Thunder players played between 20 and 28½ minutes.
At halftime, Thunder starters had combined for 26 points. Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka had just two points each.
The reserves, despite playing 25 fewer minutes at that point, combined to score 28.
One of the Thunder's biggest lifts came from reserve forward Nick Collison, who erupted for 10 points in a 3:24 span in the second quarter. In just 22 minutes of play, he finished with a double-double with 12 points (6-of-7 shooting) and 10 rebounds.
Like Brooks, Collison said he wasn't sure what to expect, but he thought the energy would be there.
“I felt pretty good,” the 31-year-old Collison said, “and I figured if I felt pretty good, I know the younger guys probably do, too. I just think the big thing was not to dwell on it (playing three straight nights), make too much out of it. It's not as bad sometimes as people think. I'm glad it happened earlier in the year. I think that was a positive, though I think we all felt fine tonight.”
Kevin Durant, who single-handedly took over late on Saturday night at Houston in a 98-95 victory, flirted with a triple-double against the Spurs and finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in just 28½ minutes.
James Harden had 20 points in 21½ minutes. Maynor's replacement, rookie Reggie Jackson, had 11 points and four assists in 23-plus minutes.