Kevin Durant put on a Mother’s Day show as his Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the San Antonio Spurs 111-97 to tie the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
LaMarcus Aldridge continues to have his way with Oklahoma City’s defense, regardless of which matchup Coach Donovan elects to go with. San Antonio’s power forward is shooting 59 percent from the floor in the series and got the Spurs off to another good start with seven points and three rebounds in the first quarter.
It was a back-and-forth game (18-15 Spurs) when Westbrook picked up a technical foul following a drive and the Spurs responded with 9-2 run with Westbrook simmering on the bench after receiving the technical. The Spurs really increased their ball pressure over the stretch with the Thunder struggling to execute their offense. Kyle Anderson swiped three steals over the final few minutes of the quarter helping San Antonio take a 27-17 lead into the second.
David West picked up a technical foul of his own early in the second quarter after battling with OKC’s Steven Adams. Adams’ physicality and unrelenting attitude on both sides of the court continues to provide much-needed interior toughness for Oklahoma City; especially with Serge Ibaka hovering around the mid-range and perimeter while attempting to defend Aldridge. The third-year big man out of New Zealand is averaging double-figure rebounds throughout this series (12.25 RPG) including 16 points and 11 rebounds in the Game 4 victory.
OKC really looked to increase the tempo in the second quarter. Their pace and defensive intensity contributed to an 0-8 stretch for San Antonio as the Thunder actually tied the game at 40 with just under three minutes to go in the half. San Antonio then responded with another run of its own as Kawhi Leonard turned up the intensity on both ends, helping the Spurs take a 53-45 lead into the second half. Leonard (15 points, five rebounds) was joined by Aldridge (11) and Tony Parker (11) as three Spurs to score in double figures in the first half.
Parker at least appears to be as healthy as he’s been in recent years as the 33-year-old veteran has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence of late – 22 and 19 points in the last two games, respectively. Even though the Spurs were able to dictate pace for much of the quarter, Durant’s 10 points in the period and Westbrook’s playmaking helped the Thunder stay within range with San Antonio taking a slim 81-77 lead into the fourth.
Durant continued his assertive offensive approach early in the fourth with eight quick points over a 90 second span while helping his team recapture the lead. Enes Kanter got his offense going in the fourth (nine in the quarter) and ended up with 11 points and eight rebounds. Dion Waiters was also finally able to get his shot going for OKC as the reserve guard scored 17 points (7-11 FG, 2-2 from deep) as well.
Ultimately, it was a matter of simply too much Kevin Durant (41 points, five rebounds, four assists), Westbrook (14 points, 15 assists, seven rebounds, three steals) down the stretch for the Thunder. OKC was able to execute and close Game 4 out at home with a 23-10 run while tying the series at 2-2 with the teams heading back to San Antonio for Game 5 (Tuesday, 8 p.m. EST).
Aldridge has clearly been phenomenal and David West has been solid in support, but the Spurs could certainly use a bit of a throwback performance (or at least a productive stretch) from Tim Duncan when the teams meet back at AT&T Center. The longtime great and future Hall of Fame player has been all but nonexistent in the series averaging just 3.0 points and 3.8 rebounds over 18.8 minutes per contest for the series.
Prediction: San Antonio adjusts the defensive approach on Durant and finds a way to make things just difficult enough for the rest of the Thunder and regain the series lead by taking Game 5.
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