SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs played host to the best player in the league this year on Tuesday night, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was the first time the Spurs got a chance to see the Thunder this season and also the first time the two teams met since the Thunder beat the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs last year.
It was a better outcome, at least for this game, with the Spurs winning 108-94.
San Antonio was pretty active in the first half with 8 steals and 6 blocked shots.
Danny Green had three of those. He got the assignment of guarding Westbrook and held him to just four points in the first quarter.
Westbrook had 27 points for the game, 3 below his season average. He didn't score in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously he has more weight on his shoulders now and he is looking to be even more aggressive than before, but he is a great player, very crafty he is good at what he does," said Danny Green.
"He set the tone for us defensively, he did a really good job on a great player," said Gregg Popovich.
San Antonio opened it up with a 31 point first quarter thanks to an eight point quarter from LaMarcus Aldridge and an 11-0 run they got lead to 18, but the Thunder roared back in the second quarter and closed it to 10 at halftime 52-42.
It was Aldridge who had the hot hand to start the third he had 7 right off the bat including a three he had in the quarter. He finished with 25 points.
The Spurs were up 17 with over eight minutes left in the third, but then San Antonio went stone cold and OKC went on a 22-2 run.
Popovich didn't even bother to call a time out. "I let them stay out there and figure it out and they did a good job of it," said Popovich.
Westbrook had 14 in the third, but the Spurs closed out the quarter with a 9-2 run and a four point lead.
Jonathon Simmons gave the Spurs a spark in the 4th quarter when he ran down Cameron Payne for a huge block at the rim.
"Seeing him racing down the floor to get a block is just immense," said Kawhi Leonard.
That may have been a spark spark for the Spurs, then Leonard caught fire.
He scored 12 in the quarter including a nice cross over reverse with a foul and a three pointer.
Leonard finished with 36 points, 8 rebounds and a couple of blocks.
Usual night for him, and a defensive effort closer to Popovich's liking.
"The usually score about 106, we did a good job albeit giving them 33 in the third quarter," said Popovich. "We played more competitively for more of the 48 than we have recently."
The Spurs host Philadelphia Thursday night.