Westbrook scores 34, lifts Thunder over Spurs
SAN ANTONIO — Russell Westbrook smiled as he walked off the court in San Antonio, blowing a kiss to a spectator and waving at the few Oklahoma City Thunder fans in attendance.
The joyful tidings were a drastic change from the scowling, screaming, chest-thumping passion Westbrook showed after essentially walking into the Spurs’ home on Christmas and kicking aside their presents.
Westbrook had 34 points and 11 assists, and ignited a decisive run in the fourth quarter to help Oklahoma City beat San Antonio 114-106 on Thursday in a fiery rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals.
“Regardless of what’s going on, like I said before and I’m going to keep saying it, my job is to attack,” Westbrook said.
He led the Thunder to their sixth straight regular-season victory over the defending NBA champions in the first meeting between the teams since San Antonio topped Oklahoma City in six games on the way to a fifth title.
The Thunder were without reigning MVP Kevin Durant, and the Spurs were missing Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, but there was still plenty of firepower thanks to Oklahoma City’s emotional point guard.
Westbrook was 14 for 28 from the field and had five rebounds and five steals in a fevered performance over 35 minutes.
“You’ve just got to rally behind him,” said Thunder guard Anthony Morrow, who had 15 points. “He’s a leader, natural born. He comes out there, he plays hard.”
Serge Ibaka had 21 points, including going 3 for 4 on 3-pointers for Oklahoma City (14-16). Steven Adams added 16 points and 15 rebounds to offset San Antonio center Tiago Splitter matching his season-high with 14 points.
It was a physical rematch between the rivals, with referees having to separate Kendrick Perkins and Manu Ginobili in the first half, and Westbrook and Cory Joseph in the second.
“I thought they outplayed us almost in every facet of the game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “When somebody retrieves 50 percent of their shots, you can’t say you’re focused or playing competitive in any way, shape or form.
“When you add turnovers to that and missed assignments defensively, it’s a pitiful performance.”
BULLS 113, LAKERS 93: At Chicago, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds against his former team and Chicago beat Los Angeles with Lakers star Kobe Bryant resting his sore body.
Jimmy Butler added 21 points, and Derrick Rose had 20 points and six assists to help the Bulls win their season-high fifth straight.
With Bryant missing his second straight game, the Lakers were unable to pull off another upset. They stunned Golden State on Tuesday night but came up short against the Central division leaders.
Gasol, a two-time champion in six-plus seasons with the Lakers, was 9 of 14 from the field in his first game against Los Angeles since joining the Bulls in the summer.
Wesley Johnson led Los Angeles with 19 points.
WIZARDS 102, KNICKS 91: At New York, John Wall had 24 points and 11 assists, eluding the Knicks all day until getting knocked to the floor by a flagrant foul that sparked an altercation, and Washington beat New York.
Wall toyed with the Knicks for 3 1/2 quarters, highlighted by a spinning, 360-degree layup, before Quincy Acy knocked him down with a forearm shove with 5:31 to play. Wall got up and pushed Acy, who responded with a punch that appeared to hit Wall behind the neck. Acy was ejected in the Christmas dust-up, and Wall received a technical foul.
Bradley Beal added 17 points for the Wizards, who had their top five of Wall, Beal, Paul Pierce, Nene and Marcin Gortat in the starting lineup for the first time this season.
Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points for the Knicks, who fell to 5-26 and have the most losses in the NBA. They have dropped six straight and 16 of 17.
CLIPPERS 100, WARRIORS 86: At Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, Chris Paul added 22 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers handed the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors their second loss at Staples Center in three days.
The Warriors held the Clippers to 4-for-24 shooting in the first quarter and 39.1 percent for the game, two nights after the Lakers shot 51.7 percent without Kobe Bryant to beat them 115-105. That loss ended a streak of 27 straight games by the Warriors in which they held opponents under 50 percent.
The Clippers, beginning a nine-game homestand after back-to-back losses to San Antonio and Atlanta, haven't dropped three in a row since March 29-April 1, 2013. Blake Griffin missed his first eight shots and was 5 for 16 overall with 18 points and 15 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 12 boards.
Klay Thompson scored 15 points, and Stephen Curry 14 for Golden State, which has lost three of five following a 23-3 start that included a franchise-record 16-game winning streak.