NBA: Spurs soar past Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook (left) goes to the basket against San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan (right) at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, USA on March 12, 2016.
Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook (left) goes to the basket against San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan (right) at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, USA on March 12, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

(REUTERS) - The NBA is a "shot-making" league but part of that equation is not being afraid to keep shooting the ball even when they are not going in.

That is 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 three-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, who trailed by two points after three quarters but dominated the final period as Oklahoma City went into the final 3min 53sec without a field goal and missed nine of their last 10 shots.

The Spurs have posted a perfect 32-0 record at the AT&T Centre 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 did not get a field goal from their starting guards until Green's three-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 per cent 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 defence 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 have lost two games in a row and four of their 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 their own on two lay-ups 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 their 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 their own, as the Thunder expanded their lead to 64-57 with 3:36 to play in the quarter on Westbrook's driving finger roll.

Patty Mills hit a three-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.