Thunder top Spurs 100-88 in key West showdown
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots between San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, left, and guard Gary Neal (14) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Russell Westbrook scored 27 points, Kevin Durant had 25 and the Oklahoma City Thunder seized control of the race for home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs by beating the San Antonio Spurs 100-88 on Thursday night.
Derek Fisher hit a season-high five 3-pointers and had 17 points, his most since joining Oklahoma City in late February, while fueling a big first-half run that put the Thunder ahead to stay.
Oklahoma City still trails San Antonio by a half-game in the standings, but pulled even in the loss column and would control the tiebreaker if both teams won out because of a better record against the West.
Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan each scored 24 points and had double-doubles for the Spurs. Tony Parker had just two points in 25 minutes and did not play in the final 7 minutes with the game on the line.
The Thunder took control with a 26-5 surge that started midway through the first quarter, then fended off a series of comebacks as San Antonio tried to rally from 20 points behind in the first half and 14 down in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs got as close as 87-84 following Duncan's layup with 5:54 to play, at the end of a 13-2 run that featured three baskets by Boris Diaw.
Westbrook hit two free throws on two of Oklahoma City's next three possessions, and Durant's 3-pointer from the top of the key provided some cushion at 94-86 with 3:17 left. The Spurs didn't make a basket over the final 4 1/2 minutes, getting only a pair of free throws from Leonard as he split on two trips to the line.
Parker, working his way back from a left ankle injury, played only 3 minutes in the fourth quarter and remained on the sidelines even after San Antonio had gotten back within striking distance.
The race for first in the West isn't decided yet, with six games left for the Spurs (56-20) and seven to go for Oklahoma City (55-20). Even when they met in last year's West finals, home-court advantage didn't hold up. The Thunder won Game 5 in San Antonio while sweeping the final four games of a six-game series.
Leonard had 14 rebounds and Duncan 11. Serge Ibaka had 11 points and 11 boards for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder got going on a 19-2 run late in the first quarter, scoring the next 13 straight points after Duncan and Parker checked out for the first time. Fisher hit all three of his 3-point attempts during the stretch, with the last one extending Oklahoma City's lead to 34-18 early in the second quarter.
Fisher hit another 3 a few moments later, and Durant's transition drive pushed the edge to 41-21 with 7:57 left before halftime. At that point, San Antonio's bench had been outscored 14-0 - with Fisher providing 12 for Oklahoma City.
The Spurs started rallying back as soon as their two stars returned, with reserve Gary Neal scoring 12 points as the deficit dwindled to 52-44 by halftime. But Oklahoma City pushed the lead right back out to 19, with Westbrook hitting a pair of 3s - one after he stole an inbounds pass from Danny Green in the backcourt - to make it 67-48.
The Spurs scored final seven points of third quarter to get within 77-71 on Neal's buzzer-beating jumper from the left wing before Oklahoma City stretched its advantage back out to 14.
NOTES: The Spurs and Thunder are the only two teams that rank among the top 5 in the NBA in scoring, field-goal percentage, 3-point shooting and free throw accuracy. ... San Antonio has had an NBA-high 13 different players start a game this season, but had its preferred starting five intact for just the 30th time. Oklahoma City has used the same quintet in 72 of 75 games. ... The season series was split, with each team winning both games on its home court.
Jessop Community Federal Credit Union