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Nightly Grades: The West still goes through Oklahoma City

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

TeamGradeAnalysis
A-

Back in 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder survived going down 0-2 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals before running off four straight wins. The Thunder have owned the Spurs since going down 0-2 in that series. They've won 10 of their next 12 games, including Thursday night's second half surge. The Thunder took advantage of Kawhi Leonard getting limited time in the third quarter to grab a nine-point lead heading into the fourth.

Kevin Durant led the way with 28 points and Russell Westbrook had 27 points of his own. Reggie Jackson was huge off the bench for the Thunder with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and four assists. 14 of the 19 turnovers for the Spurs came on Thunder steals.

C+

The Spurs weren't terribly happy with the officiating, but you have to still fight through when you're on the road against a big team like the Thunder. San Antonio went to the line just 12 times in the game, and Tim Duncan had eight of those attempts. Duncan and Leonard both had 17 points as Leonard played a brilliant game, but Patty Mills led the way for the Spurs with 21 points off the bench.

Shooters who aren't Mills made just 4-of-15 from downtown (Mills was 5-of-7) and the Spurs just couldn't get into enough of an offensive rhythm, thanks to the sloppy play. The Spurs played without Manu Ginobili, who was out to rest up.

A

The Dallas Mavericks grabbed a huge road game against the Los Angeles Clippers to keep pushing toward the postseason. Dirk Nowitzki led the way for Dallas with 26 points and the tandem of Vince Carter and Brandan Wright hit some huge shots in the fourth quarter. The biggest part of this game was the Mavs finally exorcising some demons against the Clippers.

Three times this season, the Mavs have really blown their games against the Clips. While they almost allowed another furious comeback to be completed in the fourth quarter against them, they finally got a couple of scores and some defensive stops down the stretch to get the monkey off their back. Shooting 48.3 percent from downtown will help that.

B-

The Clippers kept making pushes in this game but just kept digging big enough holes for themselves to eventually not be able to crawl out. Blake Griffin was fantastic once again with a triple-double, recording 25 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. Darren Collison did a great job of pressuring the ball late in the game and getting quick scores during the comeback.

JJ Redick struggled to hit shots off the bench and the bench struggled to contribute to the hard work of the starters. The team only turned the ball over six times, but their 22.2 percent 3-point shooting balanced out that effort.

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