Spurs top Thunder as Popovich moves to 2nd in career wins
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Keldon Johnson scored 22 points, and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-106 on Wednesday night.
Jakob Poeltl had 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, All-Star Dejounte Murray had 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and Lonnie Walker IV added 17 points for the Spurs.
It was the final game of a grueling five-game trip for the Spurs leading to the All-Star break. They finished it with a 3-2 record.
”Well, I’m happy for them,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ”This was a long road trip, and the last game of that trip is tough. Everybody wants to go home. So I thought they hung in there pretty good and did a good job against a really well coached, aggressive OKC team.”
Josh Giddey had his third straight triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for Oklahoma City. The Thunder said he’s the first rookie since Oscar Robertson during the 1960-61 season to record at least three straight triple-doubles.
”He’s a good player,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. ”I thought he played a really good floor game again tonight. The triple-double stuff is just a byproduct of how he’s playing.”
Tre Mann scored 24 points, Theo Maledon had 22 and Isaiah Roby added 17 points and 12 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder were missing their two leading scorers. Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the team leader averaging 22.7 points, continues to sit with a sprained right ankle. Forward Lu Dort, the team’s No. 2 scorer averaging 17.2 points, missed the game with a strained left shoulder.
San Antonio led 73-58 at halftime behind 51.9% shooting. The Thunder trimmed their deficit to 89-81 by the end of the third quarter. Oklahoma City held the Spurs to 6-for-22 shooting in the period.
”We got shot-happy, we stopped moving it around and took early shots,” Popovich said. ”Some of them were twos. And we just didn’t score for a while, which put us in transition defense a lot, and they took advantage of it and did a very good job.”
San Antonio led by 16 with 5:25 remaining before the Thunder made a final push and cut their deficit to five on two free throws by Maledon with 24 seconds to play. Maledon got a steal, but the Thunder missed several shots in close. San Antonio’s Doug McDermott was fouled on the rebound. He made the first free throw and missed the second, leaving the Spurs ahead 112-106 with 13.8 seconds to play. Maledon missed a 3-pointer, and the Spurs rebounded to end the threat.
”They did come out with a lot of energy,” Poeltl said. ”They had some spurts where their energy kind of took over and we didn’t respond very well.”
Popovich said the 7-foot Poeltl’s inside play was the difference.
”I told him after the game, ‘You were a star tonight. We don’t win the game without what you did tonight,”’ Popovich said.
Spurs: McDermott, who had a brief stint playing for the Thunder, scored 16 points. … It appeared the Spurs had a 37-29 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Devin Vassell’s 3-pointer in the final minute was wiped out because he stepped out of bounds before the shot. The Spurs led 34-29 after the correction.
Thunder: G Ty Jerome (sore left hip), C Mike Muscala (sore right ankle), C Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (broken right foot) and F Kenrich Williams (sprained right knee) all sat. … Lindy Waters III, a two-way player who played his college ball at nearby Oklahoma State, made his first NBA 3-pointer and finished with five points in eight minutes. … Aleksej Pokusevski had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Popovich on what Daigneault is doing with the Thunder: ”Mark does a great job and those guys just keep on playing,” he said. ”We got a lead, they didn’t care. They took the punch and came right back in it, and we did a good job toward the end.”
Josh Richardson played his first game with the Spurs since being traded from Boston. The seventh-year pro had three points in just over 14 minutes.
”I was pleased with him,” Popovich said. ”He’s a veteran, so it’s basketball, so he knows how to play. But he moved the ball. He played defense. I thought for just walking in the door, he did a fine job.”
Spurs: Visit the Washington Wizards on Feb. 25.
Thunder: Host the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 24.
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