The Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to be a tired team playing their third game in three nights of a back-to-back-to-back set.
Add the fact that one of their key player off the bench Eric Maynor was lost for the season Saturday night in Houston with a knee injury, the San Antonio Spurs were supposed to be the ones taking advantage.
However, even without one of their major contributors on Sunday night, the Thunder have jumped to a 54-48 halftime lead over San Antonio and pulled away in the second half by outscoring the Spurs in third period 37-21 that extended their lead to 22 points entering the final period.
The Spurs tried to comeback in the fourth quarter but eventually waived the white flag with a little over seven minutes left in the game.
With the game already out of hand, coach Gregg Popovich decided to give rookie Kawhi Leonard a trial by fire by assigning him to defend Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant for most of the night.
“We wanted him to get experience and see what it was like,” Popovich said.
Leonard didn’t win the battle with Durant, but neither did he give in.
His finest moment came during a first-half stint against Durant, when he forced his Oklahoma City adversary into a trap and a turnover.
Durant had his moments in the matchup as well. One came late in the third quarter, when he buried a 20-footer in Leonard’s face.
“He did a good job,” Popovich said of Leonard. “It didn’t mean Kevin didn’t score, but it was fun to watch.”
In the end, the Spurs remained winless on the road this season falling against the Thunder 108-96.
Gary Neal paced the Spurs with 18 point on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, Leonard turned in his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 boards in 34 minutes.
Richard Jefferson added 13 points, Tim Duncan had 11 points and seven rebounds and Tiago Splitter chipped in 10 points and four boards for the Spurs.
Durant led the Thunder with 21 points, James Harden scored 20 point off the bench, and Russel Westbrook had 13 points.
The Spurs who dropped to 6-3, will try to get back to the win column and and get their first road win of the season when they face the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.