OKLAHOMA CITY – Manu Ginobili restrained out of a locker room during Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday night in high spirits.
With a conspicuous pep in his step, a Spurs’ 40-year-old ensure bounced down a corridor before tipoff, cheerfully headed off for another day during work.
“Here we go again!” Ginobili exclaimed as he exchanged a discerning fist-bump with an locus confidence guard.
Three hours later, after Oklahoma City had turn a latest group to overcome a Spurs 104-94, that refrain took on another effort entirely.
Here we go again.
Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 98th career triple-double, and a beleaguered OKC dais came adult vast in a diversion poignant to an indisputable Western Conference playoff race.
It was a Spurs’ ninth detriment in a past 12 games, a freefall that has put them in danger of blank a postseason for a initial time given 1996-97.
The Spurs (37-29) left OKC on Saturday carrying forsaken to seventh in a Western Conference. If they remove Monday during Houston – a tip group in a discussion – they are approaching to lapse to San Antonio on Tuesday out of a playoff design altogether.
The Spurs could get All-Star brazen Kawhi Leonard behind this week, though a doubt of either that competence be too little, too late lingers.
“Everybody gets tested,” pronounced Spurs manager Gregg Popovich, whose group snapped an NBA record strain of 20 seasons with a winning highway record. “There’s always something you’ve got to understanding with, always new situations that arise. Everybody does their best. If you’re doing that and give yourself a chance, maybe we get a small fitness along a way.”
Unlike a Spurs’ prior 6 defeats, Saturday’s did not engage a blown fourth-quarter lead.
The Spurs never had one to squander.
After pulling with 4 points on a Tony Parker expostulate with 3:47 left in a third, a Spurs gave adult a 14-4 run that put OKC brazen 80-68 mins into a fourth quarter.
The Spurs’ troubles were innumerable Saturday, going over Westbrook’s relentless playmaking.
They were tainted prone, with a Thunder enjoying a 12-point dilemma from a tainted stripe.
Spurs brazen LaMarcus Aldridge started 1 for 8, finishing with 11 points and 7 rebounds on 5-of-16 shooting. Rudy Gay and Davis Bertans any scored 14 points off a dais to lead a Spurs.
Aldridge pronounced he approaching a Thunder to urge him mostly 1-on-1 with Steven Adams. Instead OKC doubled him most of a night.
“It’s tough to win when we play a approach we did,” Aldridge said. “It held me off ensure and we was stumbling after that.”
The Spurs were finished in, in vast part, by a vast night from a NBA’s misfortune bench. The Thunder pot scored a season-best 50 points, scarcely double their deteriorate average, on a night All-Star brazen Paul George was 4 of 16 and Carmelo Anthony managed usually dual points.
“We did a good pursuit on Paul George and Carmelo,” Parker said. “The other guys picked it up.”
Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson total for 21 of those dais points for OKC.
Then starting core Steven Adams went down with an ankle twist in a third quarter, a Thunder dusted off maestro Nick Collison, who scored 7 discerning points in his 12th coming of a season.
It helped urge OKC to 39-29 and take a Spurs’ place during fifth in a West.
“They kept us in a diversion all night long,” Westbrook pronounced of his team’s dais brigade. “It was wonderful.”
With reduction than 6 mins to go, a Spurs were behind by 21. They gave it one final gasp, and when Bryn Forbes swished a dilemma 3-pointer with 2:07 left, it brought a Spurs within 97-90.
That was as tighten as they could claw.
The Spurs could take some cold condolence in their late push. “Even if you’re down 20, we wish to keep going and build movement for subsequent game,” Parker said.
And so, a Spurs’ highway outing limps into Houston on Monday, where a Spurs on paper have small possibility of winning.
The Spurs have no choice though to forge forward. Here we go again, indeed.
“You can’t give in,” Aldridge said. “If we give in, that shows your character. we don’t consider anyone on this group is a quitter.”