If anyone was still sleeping on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Saturday night’s performance should quickly wake them up. The aforementioned Westbrook led the Thunder with 31 points and 8 assists, as Oklahoma City went into one of the toughest opposing arenas in the NBA and grabbed a decisive, 13-point win against the defending Western Conference champions.
Westbrook’s big-time effort wasn’t the only thing that paced Oklahoma City on this night, however, as his “understudy”, Reggie Jackson, had an incredible impact off the bench for the Thunder. Jackson scored 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting in just 30 minutes of court time, and the two lead guards played alongside one another for much of crunch time, as they matched up favorably with the all-World backcourt of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Speaking of Parker, the point guard emerged from injury (he had missed 2 games in a row) to score 23 points and dish out 8 assists, but he was the only Spur with what would be considered to be an “above-average” night, and aside from Tim Duncan’s 17 points and 10 rebounds, it was a somewhat lackluster night for San Antonio. The Spurs stayed in the game with some help from their 47% clip from beyond the arc, but OKC’s 48-37 rebounding edge gave them what seemed like endless chances to capitalize on the offensive end, and the Thunder took advantage.
It’s a bit scary that OKC could put together this type of performance on an “off” night from Kevin Durant, but that’s exactly what happened here. Durant was reasonably efficient, shooting 6 of 14 from the field, but he only tallied 17 points (nowhere near his league-leading scoring average), and on a night where he had it going, this would have been a more lopsided result.
As always, it’s important to note that one game in December shouldn’t be considered a full-scale “measuring stick” on either team, but this is a great sign for Oklahoma City. San Antonio is famously lackadaisical about the regular season, but any time you can beat the best on their own floor, it’s a huge win, and it’s time for the Thunder to join San Antonio (if they hadn’t already) in the “favorites” discussion out West.