Spurs win 20th in a row to take 2-0 lead on Thunder
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Tony Parker scored 34 points and the San Antonio Spurs stretched their win streak to 20 games on Tuesday, defeating Oklahoma City 120-111 to seize command of their NBA playoff series.
The Spurs took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference final and moved halfway toward booking a place against the Eastern Conference winner, either the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics, in next month’s NBA Finals.
Oklahoma City will host games three and four against the Spurs on Thursday and Saturday. In NBA history, teams that fall behind 2-0 in a best-of-seven series have recovered to advance less than six percent of the time.
The Spurs, who last lost 48 days ago on April 11 in a home game against the Los Angeles Lakers, won their final 10 regular-season games and have won their first 10 playoff games.
San Antonio’s streak has broken the NBA record for a combined win streak in playoff and regular-season games, outclassing the old combined mark of 19 wins in a row by the 2001 Lakers.
French guard Parker hit 16-of-21 shots and contributed eight assists for the Spurs, who have lost only twice in their past 33 games. Manu Ginobili added 20 points and Kawhi Leonard scored 18 for the Spurs.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points to lead the Thunder while James Harden added 30 and Russell Westbrook contributed 27 in a losing cause.
The Thunder trimmed a 22-point Spurs’ lead to only 99-93 with 5:25 remaining before the Spurs found their shooting touch to finish off the victory, but not before Spurs coach Gregg Popovich screamed at Parker to regain focus.
“We were playing sloppy and OKC came back on us,” Parker said. “He wanted to make sure I stay in place so we didn’t let them come back.
“They messed up our rhythm a little bit. We came out flat in the fourth quarter but we came back at the end to win it. They are a very tough team. They won’t quit. We can’t stop playing.”
Only three other teams in NBA history have won 20 or more in a row, all of those runs coming exclusively in regular-season games.
The Lakers set the NBA record with a 33-game win streak in 1971-72 while the Houston Rockets ran off 22 in a row in 2008 and the Milwaukee Bucks won 20 in a row in 1971.
The Spurs, leading 55-44 at half-time, made their first five shots of the second half for a 68-52 advantage and ran the margin as large as 80-58 before the Thunder went on an 8-0 spurt, serving notice the visitors had not given up.
San Antonio held off Oklahoma City, taking a 92-76 edge into the fourth quarter, but the Thunder opened the last period with a 13-5 run sparked by pressuring defense that caused the Spurs to miss 12 of 15 shots in a key span.
Oklahoma City pulled within six with 5:25 remaining but San Antonio scored eight of the next 11 points, Parker capping the run with a jumper for a 107-96 Spurs lead with 3:39 remaining.
Derek Fisher sank a 3-pointer and Durant slammed down a fast break dunk to pull Oklahoma City within 112-105.
But Ginobili hit a 3-pointer and Parker answered a Westbrook driving layup with one of his own for a 117-107 Spurs lead with only 33 seconds remaining, the Frenchman capped a 5-for-6 shooting run for San Antonio.