The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 23, 2014

Durant propels Thunder past Spurs for conference lead

SAN ANTONIO — Kevin Durant had 36 points to offset Tony Parker’s season-high 37, and the Oklahoma City Thunder survived a testy 111-105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, their third win this season over the defending Western Conference champions.

Reggie Jackson had 27 points and Serge Ibaka added 14 points for Oklahoma City (33-10), which reclaimed the West’s best record.

Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw scored 14 points each, Marco Belinelli had 13 points and Manu Ginobili added 10 points. Duncan added 13 rebounds, but San Antonio (32-10) struggled to overcome the loss of their top defensive stopper, Kawhi Leonard.

Durant finished 12 for 22, but struggled to get his shot off against the snug defense of the 6-foot-7 Leonard, who has a 7-4 wingspan. Leonard left the game late in the first half after sustaining a non-displaced fracture in his right hand. His status is unknown, but a similar injury is expected to sideline Danny Green for a month.

Durant scored 24 points after Leonard left the game with 3 minutes left in the first half.

The Spurs used a physical defense against Durant with Leonard out, especially when Ginobili drew the assignment.

The physical play angered Durant, who twice lowered his shoulder and dropped Ginobili. Both plays resulted in non-calls, which incensed Gregg Popovich. The Spurs coach screamed at officials while Durant appeared to yell at Popovich. Popovich was assessed a technical foul, which Durant angrily sank with 1:12 to give Oklahoma City a 55-51 lead with 1:19 left in the first half.

A fight nearly broke out between Derek Fisher and Patty Mills at midcourt in the final minute when the two became entangled on the floor battling for a loose ball. The two had to be separated by teammates after rising from the pile.

There were four lead changes and six ties in the third quarter, but Oklahoma City never trailed in the fourth.

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