With postseason in sight, Thunder seek season sweep of Spurs
The Oklahoma City Thunder will look to continue their push toward the postseason when they travel to San Antonio to face the suddenly surging Spurs on Sunday night.
The Thunder will visit the Spurs for the second game of a road back-to-back after a 110-96 win in New Orleans on Saturday. Oklahoma City remains in the hunt for a playoff spot, sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference.
The Thunder are a half-game out of 10th place and a spot in the play-in tournament and just 2 1/2 off the pace for sixth place and a guaranteed spot in the postseason.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 35 points vs. New Orleans, with Josh Giddey adding 19 and Jalen Williams 17.
"This is probably our best defensive-without-fouling-but-being-physical kind of night we've had in a long time.," Williams said. "When our defense is humming like that, I think we're really good. Credit to what we did the first half and the third quarter -- just kind of stuck with it and played at our own pace."
Oklahoma City has won four of its past five games after enduring a five-game losing streak.
"It's hard to hold the lead for the whole game on the road the way we did tonight," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. "I thought the guys just did a great job of stacking possessions, especially in the second half. You know, it seemed like New Orleans was gonna make some noise, and they did at multiple different times, but we held them off with sound execution on both ends of the floor."
The Spurs, who have been eliminated from postseason consideration, will play the second contest in a six-game homestand after a rousing 128-120 win over West-leading Denver on Friday. San Antonio got 23 points from Keldon Johnson, with Doug McDermott adding 20, Jeremy Sochan 19, and Devin Vassell and Tre Jones 14 apiece.
Recently acquired Sandro Mamukelashvili scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, including a dagger 3-pointer with 2:33 to play, and Zach Collins tallied 10 points for the Spurs before being ejected midway through the third quarter.
San Antonio has won three of its past five games but still is next-to-last in the Western Conference and is looking at an early pick in the NBA draft.
For a night, the Spurs -- who always battle to the finish -- looked like a team that wanted the game more than their opponents.
"The win means a lot. It shows that we are growing," McDermott said. "We're doing the right things every day. It's great to see us get rewarded with a great win against the top seed in the West. I think it's great being at home in front of our fans. They stuck with us. They know it's a process this year."
The Thunder won the first two games of the season series with San Antonio, both of them in Oklahoma City, but they haven't seen the Spurs since a 130-114 victory two days after Christmas.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 12, 2023