The Norman Transcript

April 5, 2013

Fisher comes off the bench to spark Thunder’s offense during pivotal win

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — Derek Fisher has been in a shooting slump since he arrived in Oklahoma City. In 17 games he was averaging only three points a game.

With San Antonio in town Thursday night, Fisher found the fountain of youth. He came off the bench to score 17 points to help the Thunder hand the Spurs a 100-88 defeat at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"We never worry about Fish," Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant said. "Even though he was missing some shots, we were going to keep going to him and give him confidence. And tonight he came through for us big. On the offensive end he was hitting shots, spacing the floor and being aggressive. That's what we need from him."

The win ties the season series at 2-2 and cuts San Antonio's lead for the top spot in the Western Conference down to half a game with seven games remaining.

"It was a good win," Russell westbrook said. "We are in a good position right now. We just need to get ready for tomorrow night."

After trailing by 20, the Spurs (55-20) fought their way back and had a chance to steal the contest on the road.

They cut the Thunder's lead to three points with 4:41 left in the game. Westbrook responded with a pair of free throws to push lead back to five.

Oklahoma City (56-20) got consecutive defensive stops before Durant made a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Thunder a 94-86 advantage with 3:14 remaining.

After the Spurs' Kawhi Leonard hit a pair of free throws, Serge Ibaka took an assist from Durant for an easy layup. San Antonio then had had two opportunities to answer, but Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter's shots were off the mark. Westbrook put the game away with a jumper from the free throw line and the Spurs never threatened again.

"We just couldn't score through stretches," the Spurs' Tim Duncan said. "We had a good start going into the fourth quarter and then we went however many minutes without a score. We just seemed to get within striking distance but then were not able to get over the hump."

Westbrook led all scorers with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Durant added 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting, nine rebounds and six assists. Fisher was the only bench player to hit double figures as he shot 5 for 7 from behind the arc.

Leonard and Duncan each scored 24 points to pace the Spurs. Leonard also collected 14 rebounds while Duncan hauled in 11. Gary Neal scored 11 while Tony Parker was held to 2 points.

"His leg was bothering him and he just couldn't go," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Parker. "I wish he had told me before the game. When he started out, it looked like he had no energy to start the game. He looked to me like he was limping."

The Thunder were out and running to start the game. Using their defense to force turnovers and get its transition game going, they had the Spurs on their heels.

But it was the re-emergence of Fisher that kick-started Oklahoma City offensive attack. The long time veteran knocked down his first four 3-pointers of the night as the Thunder went up 41-21.

"The energy was great," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "I think our fans thought it was a playoff game. They were so involved in the game from the start. Our guys love playing here. We've got a special place to play. If you don't get excited about playing here, you're in the wrong business."

But as the Spurs always seem to do, they slowly chipped away at the deficit. Led by Leonard, Neal and Duncan, they cut the lead to 52-44 at halftime.

It didn't take long for Oklahoma City to regain its swagger. It went on a 15-4 run to start the third, once again sparked by its defense. Durant and Ibaka each picked up a block on Leonard while Westbrook stole an inbound pass to Parker before knocking down a 3-pointer.

However, the Spurs didn't get rattled. They played at their steady pace and continued to knock down 3-pointers. Neal's jumper as time expired in the third cut Oklahoma City's advantage to 77-71.

"Those guys never give up," Durant said. "We were up 20 I think twice and they cut it to six or seven and even three. I like our poise and the way we stayed composed during those runs they were making. And we made plays."

 

Michael Kinney

Follow me @eyeamtruth

mkinney@normantranscript.com

 

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