SAN ANTONIO (AP)Chris Paul isn’t slowing down in his 16th NBA season, especially against San Antonio.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 25 points, Paul added 16 and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied to beat the Spurs 109-103 on Thursday night, snapping a nine-game skid in San Antonio.
Paul has had many memorable battles against San Antonio, including the winning shot for the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2015 playoffs to eliminate the Spurs. There was no winner Thursday, but Paul dropped San Antonio again in the fourth.
”That’s who he is. It’s not like he’s a no-name,” San Antonio guard Lonnie Walker IV said. ”He’s a great player. He made shots when it was most important, which was in the fourth quarter, and led his team to victory.”
Paul had 10 points in the final quarter to help Oklahoma City win its fourth straight and overcome 30 points from San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan.
”It’s always tough when you’re playing against a high IQ point guard like Chris Paul,” DeRozan said. ”Once you have knowledge of the game, there’s not much you haven’t seen. No matter how fast you go, at the end of the game. it’s all about smarts.”
The Thunder won the battle between the current seventh and eighth seeds in the Western Conference, extending their lead over the Spurs to four games.
”This is a tough place to play, tough place to win,” Paul said. ”At some point, we could have laid down, but we’re not built like that. Guys kept playing, kept competing.”
That could also be said about Oklahoma City’s season thus far. The Thunder (19-15) are battling for a playoff spot in what some considered a rebuilding season after the team traded All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the offseason.
”He’s an incredible guy,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of Paul. ”He’s very, very generous. He’s a great leader. Coming into an environment and a team with as many new players. For him, they’re all new, having not played with anybody. The way he’s tried to reach out and extend himself and build a chemistry inside our team, it’s been incredible to watch.”
The Thunder had a season-low four turnovers, including just one by Paul in 32 minutes.
Oklahoma City had five players score at least 13 points, including 19 from Dennis Schroder.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points for San Antonio. Aldridge finished 4 for 4 on 3-pointers two games after setting a career-high with five 3-pointers.
The Spurs shot just 37% from the field in the third quarter but maintained a 76-74 lead. Gilgeous-Alexander had 15 points in the third quarter, going 2 for 2 on 3-pointers.
Oklahoma City opened the final period on an 18-9 run to wrest control from San Antonio, which had led by 14 points in the first half. Paul was 5 for 7 in the final period.
”We didn’t move the ball very well tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ”I think we were on the dribble too much. We didn’t really attack. I thought they attacked a lot better than we did. They just (went) straight ahead at the rim, found people, and we were too much on the dribble and never really got out of it.”
Thunder: Oklahoma City’s last victory in San Antonio was Dec. 25, 2014. . Stephen Adams picked up his third foul with 7:20 remaining in the first half but remained in the game. . San Antonio native Andre Roberson has not played since rupturing his left patellar tendon on Jan. 27, 2018, against Detroit. . Oklahoma City is 7-9 on the road this season after finishing 22-19 away from home last season.
Spurs: Aldridge has made a 3-pointer in five straight games, the longest streak of his career. . Jakob Poeltl has 48 blocks this season, the third most of his four-year career. Poeltl’s career high is 100 blocks, which he achieved in 2018 with Toronto. . The Spurs are 10-9 at home this season after finishing 32-9 last season at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs observed a moment of silence in honor of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who died Wednesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 12. He was 77.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich called it a ”sad time” in the NBA and extended his condolences to Stern’s wife, Dianne, and their family.
”David Stern was an iconic figure, but that’s quite an understatement,” Popovich said during Thursday’s shootaround. ”What he was, was a force of nature, an amazing businessman, leader, manager (and) a man who took over in the mid-’80s as commissioner at a difficult time and was the visionary and the catalyst that made it was it is today. It’s why we are all here and doing well. He started it all”
Thunder: At Cleveland on Saturday night.
Spurs: At Milwaukee on Saturday night.