Rolling Thunder: In a game that could potentially decide the number one seed of the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder ties the season series on the San Antonio Spurs in the victory on Thursday night. More importantly, the Thunder takes the tiebreaker in the win, which means unless the Spurs finish with a better record, OKC will take the top spot, even if they are tied by the end of the season. The Spurs trailed early in this one, down 11 at the end of the first quarter. But they are the Spurs and like the Spurs, they would fight back, cutting the lead to 8 by half time. Unfortunately, they would only get as close to 3, coming up empty in the fourth quarter in the eventual 12 point loss to the Thunder. San Antonio did miss a couple of guys, Tony Parker, who did play, left after 25 minutes of limping. The reason is unknown, and it is still uncertain if he is available for the next game. Manu Ginobili was out with a strained hamstring, his target return is in the next 3-4 weeks. In their absence, Tim Duncan pulled all the weight with 24 points (9 of 19), 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. Kawhi Leonard stepped up for another 24 points, 14 boards and 6 assists. Russell Westbrook shrugged off all of his previous struggles against the Spurs, going off for 27 points on 9 of 21 shooting, 7 rebounds and 7 dimes. Kevin Durant added 25 on 10 of 20, 9 boards and 6 assists, including a late three point dagger that sucked the life out the Spurs’ rally. Derek Fisher, the ancient Spurs killer, was huge off the bench hitting 5 of 7 from three for 17 points. There is pretty much nothing you can do if the 10,000 year old on the rival team gets hot from beyond the arc. Better luck next time, Coach Pop and Co.
Stampede: Without Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Marco Bellinelli, Richard Hamilton, and Taj Gibson, Coach Tom Thibodeau rode the Chicago Bulls starters to oblivion (like he always does) in the 16 point comeback victory against the Brooklyn Nets. It should be noted that the Bulls won a game where Vlad Rad registered actual minutes, yes, Chicago is that desperate for bodies. Carlos Boozer led the charge with a team-high 29 points on 12 of 22 shooting, and 18 boards. The Nets on the other hand, had all of their players, but only needed two. Deron Williams had 30 points (9 of 16), and 10 assists. While his center, Brook Lopez, went for 28 (10 of 19) and 5 rebounds in the losing effort. Despite of the nice little line, Brook did not end the game well at all, turning the ball over late in the fourth that led to a what would be an eventual Nate Robinson game-winning floater. He, then followed it up by getting blocked by historical figure, Nazr Mohammed on a layup attempt and topped it off with a miss on the potential game winner for the Nets. Rough.
Gold Rush: The Denver Nuggets defeated the Dallas Mavericks on a game winning Andre Iguodala layup, but nothing matters more than the health of Danilo Gallinari, who reportedly suffered a season ending ACL injury late in the first half of this game on a no contact drive against the Dallas Mavericks defense. The Nuggets are now in serious peril once the playoffs start, with Ty Lawson possibly out for the opening week, the chances of a deep playoff run is more than unlikely. If the NBA needs a reason to cut the regular season shorter, this week should be more than enough to convince them so, no one wants to see players get injured before they battle it out in the post season, especially in games without any significance.