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News » Spurs-Thunder Preview 2009-04-06

Spurs-Thunder Preview 2009-04-06

Spurs-Thunder Preview 2009-04-06
After suffering their biggest loss in nearly three months in a matchup with the owner of the NBA's best record, the San Antonio Spurs will try to bounce back against a team with one of the league's worst.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, however, haven't played like a lottery team against the Spurs lately.

The Spurs continue their battle for playoff position in the tightly packed Western Conference race Tuesday night when they visit the Thunder, winners of the teams' last two meetings.

San Antonio (49-27) fell 101-81 at Cleveland on Sunday for its third loss in four games. It was the second-largest margin of defeat for the Spurs this season, behind only a 109-87 loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 16.

Tony Parker scored 24 against the league-best Cavaliers but didn't get much help from Manu Ginobili or Tim Duncan. Ginobili scored four points and shot 2-for-9, and Duncan added six points on 2-for-7 shooting and didn't score after the 2:56 mark of the first quarter. Duncan quickly left the arena without speaking to reporters.

The loss dropped the Spurs two games behind Denver for second place in the West and cut their lead over fourth-place Houston to a half-game. San Antonio has six games remaining.

"We have to play better," Parker said. "We have to stay positive. That's the main key right now."

A meeting with the lowly Thunder (21-55) may look like a favorable way for the Spurs to get back on track, but Oklahoma City has played San Antonio well this season. After dropping the series opener 109-104 on the road Dec. 14, the Thunder took a 78-76 home win over the Spurs on March 16 and won 96-95 in San Antonio last Tuesday night.

Kevin Durant was Oklahoma City's leading scorer in both wins, and he's averaged 28.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the season series. Fellow second-year forward Jeff Green has added 19.7 points per game in those three contests.

"I don't know why we play so hard (against San Antonio)," Durant said after scoring 31 and shooting 12-for-19 in last week's win. "I think we cause some matchup problems because we have Jeff Green at the 4 and he's very versatile at that position. But it's always fun playing the Spurs."

The Thunder haven't had as much fun playing other teams lately. Though they've won both meetings with the Spurs since March 11, they've dropped nine of their other 10 games in that stretch, including a 117-99 home loss to Indiana on Sunday night.

"That wasn't the competitive spirit I wanted to see out of our team tonight," coach Scott Brooks said. "We have to play better and harder and with more spirit."

Brooks was especially disappointed with his team's defensive effort after it gave up at least 100 points for the fifth time in six games.

"Defense is all about pride. Pride about stopping your man," he said. "We can't play without defense. We can't run up and down the court without defense. You have to stop the ball and keep the ball out of the lane, we didn't do that tonight."

Parker has been just as critical of the Spurs' defensive struggles. San Antonio, third in the league in scoring defense at 93.5 points allowed per game, has given up an average of 111.0 through two games of a three-game road trip.

"It's tough," said Parker, averaging 20.3 points and shooting 52.1 percent against the Thunder this season. "We have to make stops. The bottom line is we have to make stops so we can get some transition, get some easy baskets."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 6, 2009


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