Incredible Thunder slam Spurs, La Lakers beaten as Kobe shines
The Oklahoma City Thunder edged the San Antonio Spurs in a battle of the NBA contenders, triumphing 112-106 on Wednesday.
With Kevin Durant back fit and firing alongside Russell Westbrook for the Thunder, and four-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge added to an already-talented Spurs line-up, much was expected in Oklahoma City.
And the match-up did not disappoint as the Thunder overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter in Billy Donovan’s coaching debut.
Westbrook led the way for the Thunder, posting 33 points and 10 assists in a double-double performance.
Thunder team-mate Durant struggled from the field, making just six of 19 shots in a 22-point display, though he converted two crucial free throws with 11.5 seconds remaining.
“I know it’s one of many games, but to get him his first ‘W’ especially at home on a big stage against a big-time team felt good,” Durant said of coach Donovan, who replaced Scott Brooks. “He was calm all night, and that kind of rubbed off on us.”
Spurs star Kawhi Leonard had 32 points, while Aldridge and Manu Ginobili contributed 11 points apiece.
Danilo Gallinari starred as the Denver Nuggets accounted for the Houston Rockets 105-85.
The Nuggets had a losing season last term, finishing the 2014-15 campaign with a 30-52 win-loss record.
But the Nuggets showed signs of improvement against last season’s Western Conference finalists thanks to Gallinari, who sank 23 points.
The Rockets – missing suspended centre Dwight Howard – were led by James Harden and his 22 points.
In other results, Eastern Conference champions the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 106-76 on the back of 17 points and 13 rebounds from Kevin Love.
The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons claimed back-to-back wins after seeing off the Brooklyn Nets 115-100 and Utah Jazz 92-87 respectively.
DeMar DeRozan (25), Kyle Lowry (23) and Jonas Valanciunas (21) combined for 69 points as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers 106-99.
The Washington Wizards edged the Orlando Magic 88-87, the Dallas Mavericks trumped the Phoenix Suns 111-95, the Portland Trail Blazers were 112-94 winners over the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings lost 111-104 to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Meanwhile, the New York Knicks were too good for the Milwaukee Bucks 122-97, the Boston Celtics downed the Philadelphia 76ers 112-95, the Charlotte Hornets fell 104-94 to the Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves edged the Los Angeles Lakers 112-111.