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Danny Green lets it fly, San Antonio Spurs soar past Oklahoma City Thunder

By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange   |   March 13, 2016 at 1:03 AM
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SAN ANTONIO -- The NBA is a "shot-making" league but part of that equation is not being afraid to keep shooting the ball even when they aren't going in.

That's the position San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green found himself in on Saturday against Oklahoma City with the game tied midway through the fourth quarter.

Green had missed all eight of his shots up to that point but hit on the one that counted the most, pouring in the go-ahead 3-pointer that opened the floodgates for the Spurs and pushed San Antonio to a come-from-behind 93-85 victory over the Thunder in a matchup between the teams with the second- and third-best records in the Western Conference.

Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 for San Antonio, which trailed by two points after three quarters but dominated the final period as Oklahoma City went the final 3:53 without a field goal and missed nine of its last 10 shots.

The Spurs have posted a perfect 32-0 record at the AT&T Center this season and have won a franchise-best 41 straight regular-season games at home dating back to last season.

The streak ranks fourth on the all-time longest home winning streaks in NBA history, and third all-time in NBA history for the longest home winning streaks to start a season and first all-time in Western Conference history.

Tim Duncan added 11 points for the Spurs (56-10), who didn't get a field goal from their starting guards until Green's 3-pointer with 7:19 to play.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich credited Green, who had just five points and none until the fourth quarter, with never losing his confidence.

"(Green's) a pro and we made it clear to him there's only two outcomes -- it goes in or it doesn't," Popovich said. "He still gets his paycheck. His family still loves him, so screw it, let 'em fly -- and he did."

Oklahoma City (44-22) got a game-high 28 points and eight assists from Kevin Durant while Russell Westbrook scored 19 points but went five of 16 from the floor. The Thunder shot just 38 percent from the floor.

"San Antonio is the best defensive team in the league, and we generated a lot of good looks tonight," Durant said. "Our defense was there and we rebounded well. San Antonio hit some big shots in the fourth quarter - especially Green's shot from the corner - but we made them work for everything they got."

Reserve Enes Kanter had 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder, who has lost two games in a row and four of its past six on the road. Steven Adams added 10 points for Oklahoma City.

The two teams jockeyed back and forth for an edge in the opening quarter with the Spurs building an 18-14 lead before six straight points from Westbrook pushed Oklahoma City ahead by two at the 3:40 mark.

San Antonio responded with a mini-run of its own on two layups and three free throws by Aldridge garnered the Spurs a 25-22 advantage at the end of the quarter.

Aldridge had 15 points in the period as all of San Antonio's points were scored by three of its starters - Aldridge, Duncan (six points) and Leonard (four points).

Westbrook paced the Thunder with eight points, including a five of six showing from the free-throw line.

The Spurs have dominated teams at home in the third quarter but Oklahoma City weathered that storm and more than held its own, as the Thunder expanded their lead to 64-57 with 3:36 to play in the quarter on Westbrook's driving finger roll.

San Antonio went more than seven minutes without a field goal but its defense kept it within reach.

Patty Mills hit a 3-pointer for the Spurs at the 1:54 mark that seemed to jump-start San Antonio. The Spurs scored seven of the final 11 points of the period and trailed just 68-66 going into the final quarter.

"We just stayed with it -- our guys stayed confident taking shots," Aldridge said. "We got good looks the whole game but they weren't going in. In the fourth quarter, things turned for us."

Three straight baskets by David West to start the fourth quarter balanced a dunk and a step-back jumper by Durant and tied the game at 74, setting the table for a furious finish.

NOTES: Oklahoma City beat the Spurs 112-106 in the first meeting of the season between the teams on Oct. 28 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in both teams' 2015-16 season-opener. The game featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes. Spurs F Kawhi Leonard produced a regular-season career-high 32 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the field in that game. ... The Spurs are 51-0 this season when shooting a higher field-goal percentage than their opponent, surpassing the 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest streak in NBA history in one season. ... Spurs C/F Tim Duncan pulled down his 15,000th career rebound versus Chicago on March 10, becoming one of six players in NBA history to reach the milestone. ... Through 65 games this season, Oklahoma City ranked second in the NBA in scoring at 109.9 points per game, while ranking third in field-goal shooting percentage at 47.5 percent. Additionally, the Thunder lead the NBA in rebounding at 48.2 per game while ranking third in blocked shots at 6.17. ... Thunder F Kevin Durant recorded his seventh consecutive double-double (a career-long streak) Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, becoming the first player to string together seven straight 25-point, 10-rebound and five-assist games since Larry Bird in 1982.

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