Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: King of the hill
The Spurs came into the game with a one-game lead over the Thunder and a last opportunity to hold on to their perch atop the Western Conference. It seems like San Antonio has been warding off challengers for the top spot in the Western Conference for decades now.
That is hyperbole. I think.
The point is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook grew up watching Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Once again, the Spurs are not a team to sleep on and not a team to look past. And they are not over the hill by any stretch of the imagination.
San Antonio is in much firmer control of the Western Conference. And it is most certainly thanks to the stability at the top of the roster and the young players the franchise has found to fill in have continued the Spurs way and, as Gregg Popovich put it after the game, do their job.
This game was about Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green filling in with the Spurs down by as many as 15 points in the first half. They sparked a 35-point second quarter that gave San Antonio the lead for good and a double digit lead at that. It all ended up with a surprisingly 105-93 win at AT&T Center over the Thunder.
What was most surprising about this victory was the thorough dominance without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili playing strong games. Duncan had 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting and Manu Ginobili had 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. And, of course, Tony Parker was out with an injury.
Defeating Oklahoma City with this kind of a game was startling. To do it by double digits? Maybe the Spurs are truly the front runners to get to the Finals this year and are far from ready to cede any claim to the throne.
2: Out of whack
The last time the Warriors saw the Knicks, Stephen Curry was scoring a lot of points, yes, but Andrew Bogut and David Lee were both out with injuries. New York won the game most importantly and that is what mattered.
The tables were slightly turned when the Knicks arrived in Oakland.
Carmelo Anthony was coming off an injury. J.R. Smith was ejected in the third quarter. And Andrew Bogut and David Lee were indeed back.
All that meant the Warriors defeated the Knicks 92-63 at Oracle Arena on Monday, holding the Knicks to 27.4 percent shooting. That would be an NBA season low and the lowest shooting percentage in an NBA game since the Magic shot 24.6 percent against the Celtics last January.
This was one to forget for the Knicks.
For the Warriors though it was a much-needed win. David Lee had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Stephen Curry had 26 points and hit six of 10 3-pointers. For sure, the Warriors can see the Rockets and Lakers gaining steam behind them and so winning is critical, in any way, to hold on to their Playoff positioning.
Hayward beats the clock
Curry in transition
Bump and finish
4: Line of the Night: Tiago Splitter — 21 points, 10 rebounds
Of all the players that stepped up for the Spurs, none were more consistent and important as Splitter's effort. He led the Spurs in scoring and rebounding in their win over the Thunder. He helped get Kendrick Perkins in some moderate foul trouble and paced San Antonio as the team pulled away from Oklahoma City throughout the second half.
5: You can quote me on that
When you’re on a slide, absolutely it’s a relief. You come back from a long trip and history shows you can give one away. … We don’t want to get into a lot [more] learn-your-lesson type deals.
That's a heck of a defensive night. It takes a combination of great defense and, at times, bad offense. I wish we could take all the credit.