Russell Westbrook, Balanced Thunder Offense Beat Spurs 122-112

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 13, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- JANUARY 12: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs plays defense against against Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the game on January 12, 2019 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 122-112 on Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Saturday.

Marco Belinelli had 24 points for the 25-19 Spurs. The 26-16 Thunder broke a three-game losing streak.

The teams were coming off a wild Thursday night matchup in which the Spurs beat the Thunder 154-147 in double overtime behind LaMarcus Aldridge's career-high 56 points.

     

Steven Adams' Quiet All-Star-Caliber Season Big Reason Thunder Are Contenders

The Thunder were sluggish out of the gate, falling behind 60-51 at the half and struggling on defense once again.

However, a 35-20 third-quarter advantage turned the game around, and center Steven Adams played a big part. He scored four points, grabbed five boards, stole the ball once and found himself at the right place at the right time for a powerful dunk to pump up the home crowd:

Adams, who finished Saturday with 12 points, nine boards, two assists and two steals, has steadily improved since entering the league in 2013. This season, he's averaging career highs with 15.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He's also making 60.1 percent of his field goals.

Oklahoma City is third in the Western Conference (and only three games behind first) largely because of his efforts, and fans have taken notice at the All-Star ballot box. As of Thursday, Adams was ranked sixth among Western Conference frontcourt players with well over one million votes.

Adams also received lofty praise from Westbrook on Thursday, via Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman:

Per ESPN.com, the 25-year-old is 10th among qualified centers in real plus-minus. He's also ninth in value added and estimated wins added. With him manning the paint, OKC is also No. 1 in defensive efficiency.

Ultimately, Adams' All-Star-caliber season will keep the Thunder contending for the NBA Finals well into the spring. He helps give the Thunder one of the more well-rounded starting lineups (and one of the best Big Threes) in the league.

           

Spurs Should Swing for Bona Fide Star on Trade Market

On Tuesday, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported that the "Spurs are also viewed as a team with significant interest in [New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis], according to league front office sources."

O'Connor also noted that acquiring Porzingis would be difficult to pull off given the cap space San Antonio would need to create.

Still, the report was noteworthy because Porzingis is one of the game's young stars. While he suffered a torn ACL that will likely keep him out for the entire season, the 23-year-old averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last season. Big men who are 7'3" and can shoot threes aren't exactly a dime a dozen either.

But if the Spurs can't acquire KP, they should still make a push for another star if feasible. San Antonio is right in the thick of the playoff race at 25-19, but the team is in the middle of a clogged Western Conference where the top 14 teams are separated by just 10 games. Fifth through ninth only has a three-game gap. In other words, the Spurs don't have a lot of breathing room.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love seems like the best option. Dan Favale of Bleacher Report threw out a possible trade idea in which the Spurs would send Davis Bertans or Belinelli, Pau Gasol and a 2019 first-round pick to Cleveland for Love.

A toe injury has kept Love sidelined for all but four games, but the 30-year-old averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds last season. While he's never been known for his defense, Love can score from anywhere on the court and could form a dominant frontcourt with LaMarcus Aldridge.

While the Spurs may still be hard-pressed to take down the Golden State Warriors for the Western Conference crown (every team will be), a move into the top two isn't out of the realm of possibility. With Aldridge turning 34 in the offseason, the Spurs should take advantage of the Cavs' 8-35 season and strike a deal.

                       

What's Next?

The Spurs return home to face the Charlotte Hornets on Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Thunder hit the road to play the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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