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News » Thunder-Spurs Preview 2009-03-30

Thunder-Spurs Preview 2009-03-30

Thunder-Spurs Preview 2009-03-30
San Antonio is the best defensive team in the Western Conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder only appeared to be when they last faced the Spurs.

Struggling to stay near the top of the tightly contested West, San Antonio looks to avenge one of its worst losses of the season when it hosts the Thunder on Tuesday night.

San Antonio (48-25) had a three-game winning streak end with a 90-86 loss to New Orleans on Sunday night, seeing its Southwest Division lead over Houston trimmed to one-half game. Denver also is within a half-game of the Spurs for second place in the West, not to mention Portland, Utah and New Orleans aren't far behind.

Assuming the Nuggets beat the woeful New York Knicks on Tuesday, San Antonio would fall from the No. 2 seed - a spot it's held for most of the second half of the season - if it gets stunned by the Thunder again.

Though the Spurs allow a conference-low 93.0 points per game and Oklahoma City (20-53) gives up an average of 103.0, it was the Thunder who had little trouble stopping San Antonio in a 78-76 win on March 16. It was San Antonio's lowest-scoring game of the season.

Tony Parker was the only consistent offensive threat for the Spurs with 28 points, but he missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds and his team finished 3-of-19 from beyond the arc.

"I think our defense just won the game for us. I know the Spurs can attest to that," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said after that victory. "They've won a lot of games defensively, and we can learn from a team like them."

Defense has keyed San Antonio's current seven-game home winning streak in this series, with the Thunder franchise getting held below 80 points four times.

But the Spurs are looking to bounce back on offense. They shot 40.3 percent versus the Hornets after hitting 50.8 percent and averaging 101.5 points in their previous three games.

"They played more aggressively than we did and they wanted the game more," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Parker led San Antonio with 20 points, Tim Duncan had 19 and Manu Ginobili 17, but they got little help.

Spurs guard Roger Mason had perhaps his worst game of the season, going scoreless in 22 minutes. He was held to eight points in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night after averaging 21.0 in his previous two contests.

Ginobili shot 4-for-11 in his third game back from an ankle injury, but the star sixth man had his highest-scoring game after missing more than a month.

Oklahoma City got just 16 points from its bench in a 103-84 loss to Boston on Sunday night. It was the fifth loss in six games for the Thunder, who play five of their final nine against playoff contenders in the West.

Oklahoma City needs one more victory to surpass the franchise's total from last season in Seattle, when the team went 20-62 to get in position to draft point guard Russell Westbrook fourth overall.

Westbrook is struggling down the stretch but had 23 points against Boston. He averaged 9.0 points and shot 28.1 percent in his previous three games.

The former UCLA standout is averaging 15.7 points on the season, third-best among rookies, but has totaled just 10 in two games against San Antonio.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 30, 2009


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