The #1 and #2 positions in the Western Conference are all but set in stone, which means it's that time of the season that coach Pop feels its necessary to rest his guys for the post season. The Spurs suited up tonight in Oklahoma City without Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and LaMarcus Aldridge. Kawhi was the only one sitting out with an actual injury, recovering from a right quad contusion, while the others were simply out for rest. Here's what the starting line-up looked like:
#Spurs lineup, per Pop: Mills, Green, Marjanovic, Diaw, Anderson.— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) March 26, 2016
This unusual group kept up with OKC's talent filled starting five in the first few minutes, but the Thunder couldn't seem to miss early on. OKC connected on seven of their first nine shots, putting them at an 18-11 advantage.
Boban Marjonovic also did this:
Then, the Thunder's starters sat and the Spurs went on a 11-0 run to take a 26-22 lead, and had a two point lead going into the second quarter. San Antonio pulled down six offensive rebounds in the first quarter, to Oklahoma City's one, which was a huge factor in the Spurs having the lead.
San Antonio built up their lead to nine to start the second which capped off a 19-3 run for the good guys. David West was able to space the floor and get quality looks for himself and his teammates. He had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in his 10 minutes on the floor in the first half.
Russell Westbrook then took matters into his own hands and exploded in the second quarter. The game was tied up at 41 with two minutes to play in the half. OKC stole the momentum and got the crowd back behind them, and as Kevin Durant began to warm up as well the Thunder regained the lead.
The Spurs were down 48-44 at the half, and, all things considered, that was a good position to be in. It took 33 combined first half points from Westbrook and Durant to have a four point lead on this short-handed Spurs squad. Diaw and West each had 10 in the half to lead San Antonio.
The Thunder got out to a quick seven point lead in the third after the Spurs gave up a couple of easy looks, and Pop called a time-out. The Thunder did not seem to be messing around to start the second half, and eventually their lead was up to double digits.
After being outscored 35-19 in the third quarter, the Spurs were down 20 going into the fourth. There isn't much to say about the final quarter. San Antonio just didn't have the firepower to keep up with OKC, being this shorthanded. That, by the way, is absolutely okay. A Spurs team missing four starters shouldn't be able to beat a #3 seed in the West with two of the top five players in the league.