Thunder-Spurs Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 04, 2012
The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder last season in their first game back from their annual rodeo trip. Another victory over the Thunder could give the Southwest Division-leading Spurs plenty of momentum heading into this season's lengthy stretch away from home. San Antonio goes for a season-high fourth consecutive victory Saturday night when it faces the league-best Thunder, who begin a five-game road trip. Playing their first home game in 25 days following a 6-3 trip and the All-Star break, the Spurs won 109-105 on Feb. 25 for their sixth consecutive victory over the Thunder. Led by 21 points and 10 rebounds from Kevin Durant and 20 points off the bench from James Harden, Oklahoma City (18-4) ended that skid to San Antonio on Jan. 8 with a 108-96 home win far less competitive than the final score indicated. While the Spurs have a chance to even the season series and add to their league-best 12-1 home mark, they're already looking forward to improving their 3-8 road record when their nine-game trek starts Monday versus Memphis. "We got to find a way to win on the road. That's the bottom line,'' Tim Duncan said after scoring 19 points with nine rebounds in Thursday's 93-81 victory over New Orleans. "We're going to have enough opportunities coming up soon.'' The Spurs, though, better concern themselves with the Thunder, who have won nine of 12 outside Oklahoma City. It's the franchise's best start away from home since the Seattle SuperSonics opened 12-3 seven years ago. Oklahoma City (18-4), winner of 13 of 15 overall, has a great chance of ending a three-game losing streak in San Antonio if Durant can carry over his late-game performance from Friday's 101-94 victory over Memphis. Durant, named an All-Star starter on Thursday, scored seven of his 36 points in the final 53.8 seconds to help the Thunder rally from eight down after three quarters. "That whole fourth quarter was the way we play basketball,'' said Harden, who scored 10 of his 24 points in the opening 3:49 of the final period. While making Durant work for his points is going to be a priority for Duncan, Richard Jefferson and the rest of the Spurs frontcourt, Tony Parker could have his hands full with Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who is averaging 28.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds over the last four games. Westbrook had 13 points and five assists in 25 minutes last month versus San Antonio. He rested the fourth quarter with the other Thunder starters as they became the first team this season to win three games in as many nights. Parker finished with four points and seven assists last month in Oklahoma City after leaving midway through the third quarter for an undisclosed reason. Parker is seven assists shy of passing Avery Johnson's franchise record of 4,475. San Antonio last won four in a row from April 3-9.
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