Spurs back on track, looking for more vs. slumping Thunder
San Antonio played like its normal self on Wednesday with its first home game in almost a month, but it will take a lot more than a home-court advantage for the Spurs to beat Oklahoma City when the Thunder visit the AT&T Center on Saturday.
The Spurs defeated Detroit 105-93 on Wednesday in the first of a three-game homestand following their arduous, and disastrous, Rodeo Road Trip, and snapped a three-game losing streak. San Antonio led by just two points with under six minutes to play but clamped down on defense and produced a decisive 11-2 run that proved to be plenty to hold off the Pistons.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points to lead five teammates in double-figure scoring in the win, with DeMar DeRozan and Marco Belinelli adding 17 points each for the Spurs.
"Much better feeling, you know?" Belinelli said about returning home and getting a win. "We had a couple of tough losses against Toronto, the Knicks and Brooklyn, so finally back home with our fans, playing our basketball. I think it was a great 'W' for us."
Derrick White hit for 15 points, and Jakob Poeltl and Patty Mills scored 11 points each in the victory for San Antonio, which won for just the second time in its past nine game. Poeltl tied a career-high with 14 rebounds, and DeRozan took 13 boards for the Spurs.
Three nights after giving up 130 points in a 12-point loss in New York to the Knicks, the Spurs held Detroit to 36 percent shooting (36-100) from the field.
"This is who we have to be," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterward. "When we play good defense, we have a chance to win games. When we were at our best this year for that one run, we were first, second or third in every defensive efficiency. All of a sudden, it went bye-bye."
Also going "bye-bye" is Spurs veteran center Pau Gasol, who agreed to a contract buyout on Friday. Gasol played in 168 games over parts of three seasons with San Antonio and averaged 10.0 points and 7.4 rebounds.
The Spurs will have to be even better on Saturday to have a chance to stymie Oklahoma City, even though the Thunder head to the Alamo City on the heels of consecutive losses to Sacramento, at Denver and -- most recently, on Thursday -- to Philadelphia at home 108-104.
Russell Westbrook racked up 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the loss while recording his 25th triple-double of the season but struggled with his shooting, hitting just 8 of 24 shots.
Jerami Grant added 23 points for Oklahoma City, while Markieff Morris hit for 17, and Dennis Schroder tallied 14 points. Steven Adams contributed 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City forward Paul George, one of the league's erstwhile MVP candidates and the NBA's second-leading scorer, was missing from the lineup due to shoulder soreness, and his absence, as one would expect, hurt the Thunder.
Oklahoma City clawed back to within two points on four separate occasions in the final quarter but could never get over the hump as the 76ers held on to beat the Thunder for the first time since 2008.
"We got some stops on demand, but we weren't able to get that one extra stop, that one extra rebound to give us a chance," Westbrook said.
Schroder shrugged off any notion that the Thunder was worried about their losing streak.
"Hell no," Schroder said. "We're in the third spot (in the Western Conference standings). We didn't have (George), but we had people step up from the bench. When we play the right way, ain't nobody can beat us."
The two teams have played just once this season, but it was a doozy as host San Antonio outlasted the Thunder 154-147 in double overtime. The Spurs set a new NBA record by shooting 84.2 percent from behind the arc (10-plus makes), converting on their first 14 3-point attempts. Aldridge poured in 56 points in the win to set a new career-best performance.
San Antonio has won seven straight times against the Thunder in the Alamo City and owns a 93-76 edge all time in the series.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 1, 2019