Thunder hit by 4th quarter woes

OKLAHOMA CITY • Late game execution has hurt the Oklahoma City Thunder the entire season. The problem reared its ugly head again in the final minutes of the Thunder's 96-100 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Turnovers, defensive lapses and poor offensive execution marked another damaging defeat.

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points to lead the Spurs. He shot nine-of-17 to go along with 11 rebounds and three assists. LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points. Tony Parker posted 19 points as the Spurs took a 2-1 lead in the National Basketball Association Western Conference semi-final.

"Just being strong mentally," Parker said of his team responding in the fourth quarter. "In the fourth quarter we got some stops."

Few plays were bigger than Leonard's offensive rebound after Aldridge's miss, which led to two free throws by Parker. He hit both to give San Antonio a four-point advantage with 18 seconds left.


Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard dunks the ball over Thunder duo Andre Roberson (left) and Enes Kanter in San Antonio's NBA Western Conference semi-final Game 3 win on Friday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Oklahoma City used 14 seconds on the clock and came away with a Dion Waiters jumper but Leonard put the game away with a pair of clutch free throws.

"It was a backbreaker," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "We made them miss a shot. Then the ball kind of just fell in (Leonard's) hands."

He posted 26 points, five rebounds and three assists. Guard Russell Westbrook had with 31 points but the star duo committed critical turnovers down the stretch as the Spurs regained their home- court advantage for the series.

Meanwhile, Golden State's Stephen Curry is unlikely to suit up for the Warriors in Game 3 of their Western Conference semi-final series at Portland this morning (Singapore time).

Coach Steve Kerr said his star guard, who wore a brace protecting his sprained right knee, looked strong in training on Friday but remained doubtful.

He added: "He looked much, much better than he did even two days ago. It's a great sign, but we still want to see him in a three-on- three, a five-on-five. I don't think that will happen by tomorrow."

The Warriors lead the Trail Blazers 2-0 after two victories at home.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 08, 2016, with the headline 'Thunder hit by 4th quarter woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe