There have been plenty of rough nights for Russell Westbrook against the Spurs, especially in San Antonio. However, right now, there’s no point guard in the league playing basketball than him, and the same goes for the Oklahoma City Thunder, winning for a 9th straight time, taking control of the Western Conference.
Russell Westbrook scored 31 points to lead the Thunder in a very impressive 113-100 win, highlighted by outscoring the Spurs in the closing quarters of each half and especially 26-16 in the final minutes of the game, as San Antonio felt it was finally getting close to their big rivals. None of the big three went missing, but Kawhi Leonard didn’t play. It didn’t stop the Spurs from doing a good job on Kevin Durant, scoring only 17 points on 6-of-14 from the field, but they had no answer for Westbrook.
We got the best record in the league; I believe we’re the best team in the league regardless of who says this and who says that. You have to go out and play. You can predict anything, but you have to play the game. It was one of our best scoring quarters. Not sure we have even had a 40-point quarter this season, but we moved the ball well and made shots. Both teams are hard to guard and both teams can score points. We got hot there in the second.
Westbrook entered the game shooting 36% from the field in 19 career games against the Spurs, but finished with a 13-of-22 (59%), his best shooting night against the Spurs. He had a very rough 2-of-16 night with 6 points in the first game between the two teams this season.
The Thunder did a very good job in slowing down Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Parker isn’t completely healthy and is playing on a bad ankle, but did finish with 23 points and 8 assists. He struggled in the final quarter, and got almost half of his points by going to the line, finishing with 11-0f-13. Manu Ginobili did much worse, with only 3-of-9 from the field. The Spurs’ biggest mistake was giving Tiago Splitter only 24 minutes. He allows Tim Duncan to go out to Serge Ibaka. The minutes with Boris Diaw on the floor were the worst for the Spurs, as Diaw provides good man to man defensive skills, but is a lot less useful when it’s about a team effort and thinking on a larger scale.
The Spurs also had a problem with Reggie Jackson, scoring 21 points, having his second big game against them this season. Slowing down Durant and Westbrook is quite a big problem in itself, but having to worry about Jackson and Lamb as well might be too much for pretty much anyone in the league. A little bit more consistency from Jackson and we might actually stop hearing about the James Harden trade from over a year ago, but in truth it might be only that a championship will stop the discussion about whether it was the right or wrong decision to make that move.