OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Thunder didn’t face the San Antonio Spurs’ biggest stars, but they’ll take the win.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points and Russell Westbrook added 29 to help the Thunder defeat the short-handed Spurs 111-92 on Saturday night.
It wasn’t the late-season showdown that was anticipated when the schedule first came out – the Spurs rested Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
The game also had little effect on the standings. San Antonio is likely to finish second in the Western Conference and the Thunder are virtually locked into third. But the Thunder, who won their seventh straight, said it was important to maintain momentum.
“Another opportunity for us to keep growing and building our habits,” Durant said. “It wasn’t on us that they didn’t play their starters. We just had to continue to play our game and do what we do.”
Enes Kanter had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka added 15 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma City.
David West and Jonathon Simmons each scored 17 points for the Spurs, who had won eight of nine. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he thought his team played hard, but didn’t have the talent available to keep up.
“They did what they were supposed to do in the end and they kicked our butt,” Popovich said. “We hung in there really well and did a good job. You learn from everything. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter.”
Westbrook scored 20 points in the first half to help the Thunder take a 48-44 lead into the break.
Andre Roberson hit a 3-pointer, then Westbrook rebounded a missed free throw and found Steven Adams running down the middle of the lane for a dunk. Westbrook then set Ibaka up for a dunk to push Oklahoma City’s lead to 69-56.
Westbrook uncorked a powerful one-handed jam to bump Oklahoma City’s lead to 74-59 late in the third quarter. Durant scored nine points in the period to help the Thunder take an 83-63 edge into the fourth.
“I think it was that little spurt in the moment that we didn’t make stops, and they made tough shots, and at the same time, we didn’t score,” Spurs forward Boris Diaw said.
The Spurs didn’t want to make excuses.
“I mean, we are professional, so we are going to give the effort,” West said. “When you are down a few guys like we are in a game like this against a high-caliber opponent, you almost have to be mistake free to give yourself a chance.”
Durant on the Spurs’ 7-foot-3, 290-pound rookie center Boban Marjanovic, who had 13 points and six rebounds in his second start: “He can play. I like his game.”
Aside from Kanter, the Thunder got just two points from their bench. Kyle Singler, Dion Waiters and Cameron Payne all went scoreless and Randy Foye finished with two points.
Spurs: Committed just two turnovers in the first quarter and finished with 14. … Other than Danny Green, who has started all 71 games he has played this season, San Antonio’s starters entered the night with a combined 13 starts. … Shot just 38.6 percent in the first half. … Dropped to 14-1 on the second game of back-to-backs this season. … Diaw was called for a technical foul in the fourth quarter.
Thunder: Durant scored 20 or more points for the 58th straight game. … The score of Oklahoma’s 80-68 Elite Eight win over Oregon was shown on the big screen in the first quarter and drew a loud cheer. … Singler returned to action after missing three games with lower-back soreness. … Westbrook was called for a technical foul in the third quarter.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.