OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Dennis Schroder broke out of his slump in a major way.
The reserve point guard scored all of his 19 points in the second half to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 122-112 on Saturday night.
Schroder entered the night shooting just 32 percent from the field in 2019 and averaging just 10.4 points, dropping his overall average to just over 15 per game. He went 0 for 4 from the field in the first half before going 8 for 13 after the break.
“I just stayed aggressive,” he said. “I had a tough stretch of games. My teammates kept giving me confidence. You know, ‘Keep shooting, keep doing you.’ I think I did that tonight in the second half.”
Even Spurs coach Gregg Popovich couldn’t find an answer.
“Schroder just sliced us and diced us, did a great job getting to the rim, scoring,” he said. “Defense let us down a little bit.”
Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Paul George added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which bounced back from a 154-147 double-overtime loss to the Spurs on Thursday.
Oklahoma City’s reserves scored 48 points to help snap a three-game losing streak. The Thunder had seven players score in double figures.
Marco Belinelli scored 24 points and DeMar DeRozan added 18 points for the Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored a career-high 56 points against the Thunder on Thursday, finished this one with 17.
“They didn’t let me play,” Aldridge said. “They doubled me in every way. They came from the baseline, from the top. They made sure that the ball wasn’t in my hands. ”
The Spurs led 60-51 at halftime behind 12 points from DeRozan and 11 from Belinelli.
The Thunder fought back in the third quarter. George hit a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 64-63 lead. Schroder’s layup at the third-quarter buzzer put the Thunder up 86-80. Oklahoma City outscored the Spurs 35-20 in the period.
“Third quarter was a tough quarter,” Popovich said. “Put ourselves behind the 8-ball there. Played a great first half on the road after an emotional game. I was really happy with their effort and mental approach to the game.”
Schroder’s layup gave the Thunder a 96-87 lead and caused San Antonio to call a timeout, but the onslaught continued. Schroder stole the ball, then bounced a pass between his legs and behind him to a trailing Westbrook, whose layup put the Thunder ahead 112-100 with about 5 minutes to play.
Spurs: DeRozan was called for a technical in the third quarter. … The Spurs went 16 for 19 from 3-point range on Thursday, but 10 for 31 on Saturday. … The Spurs outrebounded the Thunder 52-47.
Thunder: G Alex Abrines missed his seventh straight game for personal reasons. … Schroder was called for a technical in the third quarter. .. Announced before the game that they will be retiring Nick Collison’s No. 4 in March. Collison spent all of his 15 NBA seasons with the franchise.
HE SAID IT
Schroder, upon hearing that Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he plays better when he’s mad: “I need to learn to be angry like that every time.”
The Spurs had six turnovers in the third quarter and 14 overall. The Thunder had seven turnovers the entire game.
Thunder forward Abdel Nader, in his second year out of Iowa State, has provided a major boost off the bench lately. He scored 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting Saturday against the Spurs after scoring 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting Thursday against San Antonio.
Spurs: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
Thunder: Visit the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.