Post Up: Thunder Strike Down

by Brett Weisband | @weisband

Thunder (55-19) 106, Spurs (59-17) 94

The circumstances seemed ideal for the Thunder to finally end the Spurs’ winning streak, and Oklahoma City took advantage and knocked off the West’s front-runners. Kevin Durant helped the Thunder crank it up after halftime, finishing with 28 points on 11-26 shooting after a 5-16 first half. Russell Westbrook (27 points, 10-20 shooting, 6 assists) was at his havoc-creating best, picking off 4 steals and getting his in transition.

OKC’s defense made life difficult for the Spurs, who were playing the second half of a back-to-back without Manu Ginobili, sitting for rest purposes. The Spurs started the third quarter with a three-point edge, but OKC put together a 13-2 run in a five-minute span, building a lead they didn’t give up. The Thunder used their length and athleticism, seemingly San Antonio’s kryptonite, to force the Spurs into tough shots. San Antonio shot 43 percent on the night and committed an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers.

Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard dropped 17 points each for the Spurs, while Patty Mills was their top scorer with 21 points off the bench. The Thunder welcomed back Kendrick Perkins (21 games missed) and Reggie Jackson (14 points), who terrorized the Spurs when handed the keys to the offense for stretches. Serge Ibaka had 11 points, 12 rebounds and 3 swats for the Thunder as they completed a season sweep of San Antonio, going to 4-0 against the conference’s old guard.

(GIF via r/NBA)

Mavericks (45-31) 113, Clippers (54-23) 107

Things got dicey for Dallas in the final minutes, but the Mavericks managed to hold on against the Clippers for a vital win in their chase for a postseason spot. Dirk Nowitzki was sublime, scoring 26 points (10-18 shooting, 4-7 on 3-pointers) and nabbing 10 rebounds. Dirk knocked down two triples in the fourth, helping Dallas build a 12-point lead that they’d need every bit of. Jose Calderon hit for 19 points, hitting 3-5 from deep, and Vince Carter (4-7 on 3s) brought the shooting off the bench, scoring 16 points. With their competitors for the final spots in the Playoffs idle, Dallas moved a half-game up on both the Grizzlies and the Suns.

The Clippers rode their attacking pair of point guards, Chris Paul (17 points, 9 assists) and Darren Collison (22 points), as they erased nearly all of Dallas’ lead late in the fourth. A 10-0 run, where all but two points were scored by the PGs, cut the lead to 109-107 with 1:25 to go. The Mavs held the Clips without a field goal the rest of the way and iced the game at the line. The Clippers’ front line went to work all night, with Blake Griffin posting a triple-double (25 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) and DeAndre Jordan finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks. L.A. got J.J. Redick back in the lineup; the guard was rusty after missing 26 games, scoring 12 points on 3-12 shooting.