With coach Gregg Popovich opting to rest Manu Ginobili, and newly acquired forward Stephen Jackson not yet able to join the team, the San Antonio Spurs holdovers responded to the challenge.
Tim Duncan grabbed a season 19 rebounds to help San Antonio defeat Oklahoma City for the second time this season.
Tony Parker scored 25 points, while Tim Duncan added 16 points and a season-high 19 rebounds, as the Spurs beat Oklahoma City 114-105 on Friday night.
San Antonio rolled to a 27-point lead in the first half and was up by 20 late in the third quarter before Oklahoma City rallied within two-points down the stretch.
Duncan muscled past Serge Ibaka at the left block, after Kevin Durant’s 3-pointer pulled the Thunder within 107-105, and Danny Green stole a careless inbound pass by James Harden for a dunk that put the game away.
Russell Westbrook finished with 36 points and Durant scored 25 for Oklahoma City.
DeJuan Blair had a double-double performance with 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs.
Westbrook scored 10 points during Oklahoma City’s 20-2 comeback, and the All-Stars took turns setting up 3-pointers from Harden and Royal Ivey during the run. Durant’s jumper from the left elbow with 9:36 remaining pulled the Thunder to 92-90.
Green hit a jumper and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to give San Antonio a little bit of its cushion back, and the Spurs were able to hold on from there.
Ivey and Durant each missed 3-point attempts that would have tied it at 101 with a little under 5 minutes left, and the Thunder never again had the ball with the chance to tie or go ahead.
Green sealed it when Harden tried to bounce the ball to Westbrook near midcourt on an attempted sideline inbound play with 59.9 seconds left, running out for a right-handed dunk that made it 111-105.
Green finished with 21 points and five steals for San Antonio, which held a 49-37 edge on the boards and outscored Oklahoma City 24-9 on second-chance opportunities and 54-36 in the paint.
Rookie Kawhi Leonard chipped in 15 points, five boards and three steals in his first start at the small forward position.
Duncan’s rebound total pushed him past Paul Silas and Dikembe Mutombo into 18th place on the NBA’s all-time list.
The Spurs won the season series 2-1 and would have a tiebreaker if they were able to catch Oklahoma City at the end of the season.
Harden added 19 points and Ibaka had 12 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks for the Thunder. Oklahoma City has lost three of four at home — with the only win coming against NBA-worst Charlotte — after winning 14 in a row at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Previously, no opponent had led by more than 16 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena this season.
The Thunder rallied back, scoring 12 of the final 14 points of the first half to pull to 65-48, and they wiggled back to within 13 early in the second half before San Antonio pushed its lead back to 86-66.
The Spurs will try to keep their winning streak going when they face the Dallas Mavericks on the second night of a back-to-back.