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News » THUNDER 96, SPURS 95


SAN ANTONIO - If Denver or Houston finishes with the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, the Nuggets or Rockets might want to send Thunder players a small token of their appreciation.

Oklahoma City's 96-95 win in front of a sellout crowd Tuesday night at AT&T Center was the Thunder's second win over San Antonio in two weeks.

"This is a big win for us," said Kevin Durant, who scored a game-high 31 points. "Coming into a building where the Spurs have won so many championships, to get a win, it's a real confidence-builder."

The Thunder's biggest road win of the season wasn't secure until Michael Finley missed a 17-footer at the buzzer to end a frantic final 20 seconds.

Oklahoma City, 7-30 on the road, hadn't beaten an above-.500 team away from the Ford Center all season.

That no longer is the case. This road win was against the Spurs, who clinched their 16th consecutive playoff berth despite the loss and have won three of the past six NBA titles.

"San Antonio is a great team that can do great things in the playoffs," said Russell Westbrook, who had a double-double. "We did a great job of playing our game tonight."

In a few early season road games - two in Dallas being the best examples - the Thunder built a double-digit second-half lead but couldn't close it out. This time, OKC answered the Spurs' big run.

Trailing by 17 points with 5:15 left in the third quarter, the Spurs clawed to within 82-81 with 10:17 remaining in the game. But they would never regain the lead.

Oklahoma City responded with a 10-0 run to rebuild the lead to 92-81. Even when the Spurs made a late-game run, the Thunder had three big defensive stops down the stretch. San Antonio scored only one field goal the final 2 1/2 minutes.

"Early in the season when teams made a run, we sort of got put back on our heels and threw us for a loop," said Jeff Green. "Now, we're learning how to put teams away, convert on the other end, make plays and get big stops."

Unlike a defensive war two weeks ago in the Ford Center, this one was a shootout early before defense once again proved to be the deciding factor. After shooting 63.6 percent the first quarter, the Spurs shot 41.4 percent the final three quarters.

"We got stops," Durant said. "We contested shots. We wanted to keep Tony Parker out of the lane, pack it in on him and get out to the shooters as quick as possible. They hit some big shots, but we did a good job (defensively) for the most part."

In a tightly bunched battle for the No. 2 seed, the Spurs have lost twice to the Thunder in March and play OKC one more time next week in the Ford Center.

"Obviously, this is a tough loss," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "We've been playing up and down. Some nights we play really well, and some nights are like tonight. The common denominator is we're not hitting our jump shots. We had the same problem (Sunday) in New Orleans."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 3, 2009


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