OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 28 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four blocked shots, and the Oklahoma City Thunder closed a season-high, seven-game homestand by beating the San Antonio Spurs 130-114 on Tuesday night.
Mike Muscala, pressed into extended action due to an early injury to starting forward Aleksej Pokusevski, hit 3 of 5 3-point attempts and scored 19 points. Tre Mann had 17 and rookie Jalen Williams added 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Thunder never trailed after the 1:59 mark of the first quarter, but needed a 14-3 run to open the fourth quarter to secure the win. Oklahoma City hit 13 of 24 3-point attempts (54.2%).
”We were good tonight, offensively and defensively,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, who matched his career high for blocked shots. ”We just try to be the aggressors, play with pace, play together, try to make smart decisions.”
Devin Vassell scored 20 points for the Spurs. Keldon Johnson started despite battling low back tightness and added 19.
Official Jenna Schroeder issued two quick technical fouls and ejected San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich with 11:13 left in the second quarter, after Popovich yelled ”Do your job!” and other things at her. Assistant coach Brett Brown led the Spurs’ bench the rest of the game and filled in for Popovich again during postgame interviews.
”We had an incredibly hard time guarding their live-ball penetration,” Brown said. ”They did a great job. They’re hard to guard. We needed to do better (with) one-on-one defense and keeping the ball out of the paint and we didn’t. . We let them off the hook at times with unnecessary fouls.”
The technical fouls came in the middle of an 11-4 run by Oklahoma City that put the Thunder ahead 51-41 and they were up 70-60 at halftime. Oklahoma City was 9 of 14 on 3-point attempts in the half and Muscala came off the bench to score 14 points.
San Antonio pulled within 95-93 by the end of the third quarter, but Oklahoma City opened the fourth quarter with its big run.
”We got off to a good start,” Muscala said. ”Obviously, they made some runs there, but we just stuck with it and kept encouraging each other and came up with the win. It was a fun game.”
Spurs: Reserve forward Doug McDermott missed the game due to right knee soreness . Reserve guard Josh Richardson, who grew up in nearby Edmond, Oklahoma, scored nine points in 26 minutes. . The Spurs are 1-6 this season in the second game of back-to-backs. They have lost six straight in such games.
Thunder: Pokusevski went down less than two minutes into the game while trying to grab an offensive rebound and began clutching his left knee. He was helped off the court and did not return . During the first quarter, Josh Giddey became the second-youngest NBA player (at 20 years and 78 days old) to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists, behind only LeBron James (19 years and 326 days old) . Oklahoma City went 4-3 during its homestand.
50K AND COUNTING
The Spurs say they’ve sold more than 50,000 tickets for their Jan. 13 game against Golden State, which will be played in their former home venue, the Alamodome. It will be the fourth time in NBA history a crowd has exceeded 50,000. A record 62,046 fans watched in 1998 when the Chicago Bulls visited the Atlanta Hawks.
Popovich said the Alamodome – where in 1999 San Antonio won the first of its five NBA titles – ”has a special place” in the heart of Spurs’ fans.
”It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime sort of event for the fans and they have really warmed up to the idea, so it’s pretty cool,” he said.
Spurs: Host the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Thunder: At the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.
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