Thunder edge Spurs, even series at 1
SAN ANTONIO — The Oklahoma City Thunder nearly gave the game away in a wild final sequence that referees acknowledge should have been blown dead before it started.
All that matters to the Thunder is that they're all even with the San Antonio Spurs.
Russell Westbrook had 29 points and 10 assists, and the Thunder held on to beat San Antonio 98-97 on Monday night, evening the series at one game apiece when the Spurs failed to score in the final seconds.
Kevin Durant added 28 points as the Thunder handed the Spurs just their second home loss of the season, rebounding from a 32-point beating in Game 1.
With San Antonio trailing 98-97 with 13.5 seconds remaining and Oklahoma City out of timeouts, Thunder guard Dion Waiters elbowed Manu Ginobili to get the space needed to inbound the ball.
"On the floor, we did not see a foul on the play," referee Ken Mauer told a pool reporter. "However, upon review we realize and we agree that we should have had an offensive foul on the play. It's a play that we have never seen before, ever, but we feel we should have had an offensive foul on Waiters."
Waiters claimed he was unaware of any contact.
"No, I'm in the game, man, I don't really know what's really going on," Waiters said. "My whole mindset is get the ball inbounds and hopefully we get a foul once the ball the ball gets inbounds, but it was a crazy sequence the last 13 seconds. So we pulled it out, that's all I care about."
Waiters inbounded to Durant, who was immediately stripped by Danny Green. Patty Mills missed an open 3-pointer, LaMarcus Aldridge lost the ball after grabbing the airball and Kawhi Leonard was unable to gather the ball before the buzzer sounded.
"I don't know what it is, to tell you the truth, what type of violation it is," Ginobili said of Waiters' elbow. "It's got to be something. But again, it's not that play that decided anything. We got the steal, we got the shot, we got an offensive rebound."
Aldridge had 41 points, but the Spurs shot 43 percent as a team after shooting 61 percent in the series opener.
"It feels horrible," Aldridge said. "Feels like it was wasted. I've never been about trying to get points and not win, I always try to do things to win. If you win it's totally a different feeling, but losing like that hurts."
Leonard was held to 14 points on 7-for-18 shooting. Ginobili was the only other San Antonio player in double figures, scoring 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
San Antonio missed 12 of its first 13 shots, struggling to even hit the rim after seemingly making every shot it took in the opening quarter of Game 1. The Spurs missed six layups and Green awkwardly tossed a hard runner that ricocheted off the backboard.
"I thought we did a good job from the beginning making it tough," Durant said. "That first (Spurs) basket didn't go in and that was a step in the right direction for us after what happened last game. We just try to make every basket tough."
Game 3 is Friday at Oklahoma City.
Aldridge had 13 points in the final quarter, including a pair of three-point plays. The All-Star forward drained his second 3-pointer of the season to pull San Antonio within 96-94 and then made three free throws after being fouled by Serge Ibaka to pull the Spurs within 98-97 with 13.5 seconds to set up the final play.
The series of missteps almost wiped away a strong outing by the Thunder.
Oklahoma City moved the ball much better than it did in the opener, providing the space it needed against San Antonio's collapsing defense and providing Westbrook with room to drive and set up teammates, including a thunderous dunk by Stephen Adams after a pass backward.
Thunder: Oklahoma City had lost 15 games this season when leading after the third quarter, including the playoffs. ... The Thunder's backup backcourt of Waiters and Cameron Payne has combined for 17 points on 5-for-20 shooting and six assists. ... F Nick Collison did not play after scoring two points in 19 minutes in the series opener.
Spurs: Aldridge was limited to 14.5 points in San Antonio's four-game sweep of Memphis. ... Ginobili is third in postseason 3-pointers at 306, trailing former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller by 14 for second. Ray Allen holds the record with 385. ... The sellout crowd went wild when Spurs rookie center Boban Marjanovic entered the game with 9:33 remaining in the first half, his earliest appearance of the postseason. Marjanovic played 3 minutes in the first half, trading a series of elbows, forearm shots and bumps with Adams.
CAVALIERS 104, HAWKS 93: At Cleveland, LeBron James scored 25 points, Kyrie Irving added 21 and the Cleveland Cavaliers withstood a strong comeback by Atlanta to maintain their chokehold on the Hawks with a win in the opening game of their second-round Eastern Conference series.
James converted a critical three-point play with 2:09 left for the Cavs, who fell behind in the fourth after leading by 18. Cleveland swept Atlanta in last year's Eastern Conference finals and has won eight straight over the Hawks. Cleveland also improved to 9-0 against Atlanta in the postseason.
Dennis Schroder scored a playoff career-high 27 and rallied the Hawks before they crumbled in the closing minutes. Atlanta's offense bogged down in crunch time and the Hawks only scored two field goals in the final 4 minutes.
Paul Millsap added 17 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which got just eight points from Jeff Teague.