The Oklahoma City Thunder found a way to respond to their rough opener against the San Antonio Spurs with a gutsy 98-97 road victory over the Spurs in Game 2 on Monday night.
Oklahoma City came out with a ton of energy on both sides of the ball. Russell Westbrook definitely looked a lot more aggressive from the jump, as he got the Thunder off to a quick start with 14 points. Kevin Durant asserted himself in the first quarter as well, scoring seven points of his own, helping OKC enter the second quarter with a 29-21 lead. The Spurs were fortunate LaMarcus Aldridge was able to continue his strong play with a 4-6 first quarter start for eight points, a rebound and two assists to help keep the Spurs within distance.
Patty Mills and Danny Green hit back-to-back threes for the Spurs to close within two early in the second quarter, causing an OKC timeout to regroup. It was a back-and-forth slug fest throughout the second quarter, but OKC was still able to end the half with a 56-53 lead. Aldridge was absolutely phenomenal throughout the half, ending with 22 points on 9-11 from the field.
Steven Adams was strong on both ends for the Thunder, as the third-year center was a physical presence in the post and also chipped in with 12 points and 17 rebounds. Beyond the impressive numbers, Adams is a guy willing to do the dirty work that doesn’t always show up in the box score.
Manu Ginobili didn’t play very much (just 11 minutes) during San Antonio’s Game 1 blowout win, but the 38-year-old four-time champion definitely made his presence felt in Game 2. Ginobili scored 11 points while grabbing three rebounds and swiping two steals during San Antonio’s third quarter charge.
OKC was able to extend the lead to as many as nine points with Westbrook on the bench early in the fourth, but inexplicably forgot they needed to defend Danny Green behind the three-point line as he knocked down consecutive (wide open) threes to pull the Spurs to within three (85-82) with just over six minutes to go in the fourth. Green now has eight threes through the first two games.
The final stretch of the game was fantastic as the two teams exchanged runs, big shots and key rebounds or defensive stops. Aldridge backed up his huge Game 1 performance with an even better 41-point, eight-rebound night. Aldridge is shooting 33-44 from the field so far and has been San Antonio’s most dominant offensive weapon thus far against the Thunder in this series.
Ultimately, Durant (28 points, seven rebounds and four assists) and Westbrook (29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds) were simply too much for the Spurs as the Thunder managed to continue executing just enough during key moments, which has been a concern in the past for Oklahoma City. There was some controversy at the end of the game, with Dion Waiters shoving Ginobili on the final inbounds play of the game (which refs later admitted should have been called a foul).
OKC now heads back to Chesapeake Energy Arena with momentum and the confidence of having been only the second team to beat the Spurs in San Antonio throughout the regular season and postseason.
Prediction: OKC applies the pressure and take Game 3 at home.
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