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Wednesday December 19, 2012
OKLAHOMA: Serge Ibaka produced a season-best 25 points and 17 rebounds to spark the red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder to a 107-93 victory over Western Conference rivals San Antonio on Monday.
Usually known for his defense and energy, Ibaka dominated the post against Tim Duncan to help the NBA-leading Thunder (20-4) cruise to their 11th straight win.
“Serge was terrific tonight,” Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant told reporters. “They do a great job of taking the main scorers out of the game. So that’s when you have to step up.”
Russell Westbrook added 22 and nine assists while Durant added 19 for Oklahoma City in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals when the Thunder eliminated the Spurs.
The Thunder blew open a close game with an 11-0 run in the third quarter and used their speed and athleticism to run away from the Spurs.
Tony Parker had 14 points and seven assists for the visitors and Duncan was held to 12 but neither played in the fourth quarter where coach Gregg Popovich kept them on the bench with the game out of reach. The Spurs were also without Manu Ginobili, who missed the game after sustaining a left quadriceps injury on Saturday against Boston.
The Spurs (19-7) have lost three of four and had their Southwest Division lead trimmed to one game.
Stephen Jackson returned to the court for the Spurs after missing 14 games with a broken finger.
Jackson had previously been fined US$25,000 for a hostile Twitter message directed at Ibaka, but the Thunder forward hit back on the court where his offensive game continues to expand.
“He hurt us bad,” Jackson said of Ibaka. “He had, what, 18 in the first half, 16 in the first half? He was hitting everything. That’s the same way we lost last year in the playoffs, by him hitting those same shots. I take my hat off (to him).”
The Thunder lead the NBA in scoring and have not slowed down even after trading away Sixth Man of the Year James Harden in the off-season.
Kevin Martin, who they acquired in the deal, had 20 off the bench.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Lin won again at Madison Square Garden, and for the first time this season, the New York Knicks didn’t.
Lin had 22 points and eight assists in his return to New York, leading the Houston Rockets to a 109-96 victory that ended the Knicks’ 10-game home winning streak to open the season.
Cheered then jeered, and later clobbered, Lin added another masterpiece to the ones he put together last season during the height of Linsanity. No longer the favourite he was when he was with New York, Lin got a mixed reception when he left the game.
James Harden had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets. Rookie Chris Copeland scored a career-high 29 points for the Knicks. Mike Conley had 17 points, and Zach Randolph added 10 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the Chicago Bulls 80-71.
Rudy Gay scored 12 points for the Grizzlies but shot 5 of 13, continuing his slump. At Auburn Hills, Michigan, Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead the Los Angeles Clippers past the Detroit Pistons 88-76 for their 10th straight win. Blake Griffin had 15 points for the Clippers, who had five players in double figures.
The Orlando Magic beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-93 as Glen Davis scored 28 points and J.J. Redick had 18 points and seven assists, while Shannon Brown scored 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter and Jared Dudley added 20 more in the Phoenix Suns’ 101-90 victory over the Sacramento Kings. — Agencies
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