If you're wondering which version of the San Antonio Spurs will show up when they host the hapless Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, you're not alone.
The Spurs have been just good enough to look like a Western Conference contender. But San Antonio has been just as bad enough in other games that their supporters wonder if rebuilding mode and growing pains could stick around.
In the Spurs' most recent outing, a 121-107 loss at home to league-leading Phoenix, both personalities showed up.
San Antonio had multiple stretches when it looked every bit as good as the Suns and then all but collapsed in the fourth quarter as Phoenix outscored the Spurs 34-16 in the fourth quarter, emphatically deciding the game.
"We competed hard but had too many mistakes, too many turnovers," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterward. "(We) got hit on the boards in certain periods where they got extra shots, so that combination hurt us. It stops your momentum. We've got to play for the whole 48 a little bit sharper, (with) a little bit more purpose, but they don't want for effort, that's for sure."
All five of San Antonio's starters scored in double figures in the loss. Jakob Poeltl paced the Spurs with 23 points and 14 rebounds, with Dejounte Murray adding 18 points, Doug McDermott scoring 15, Keldon Johnson and Derrick White contributing 14 each and Devin Vassell hitting for 10 points off the bench.
"We were up by 10 or 12 points in the third quarter," Johnson said. "We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, had some bad turnovers and a couple of bad shots, but we were right there. Hats off to them. Phoenix played a good game ... and we just have to be better."
The Thunder head to the Alamo City following a 104-102 loss in Dallas on Monday. Oklahoma City cut a 22-point third-quarter deficit to just two points after Ty Jerome's 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining. The Thunder had a possession to tie the game but could not get up a shot.
"They got on their run, we knew that we could compete with those guys," Luguentz Dort said after the loss to Dallas. "They got it going a little bit, and we just had to fight and push through."
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 34 points while Dort added 18 and Josh Giddey hit for 10. Fifteen of Gilgeous-Alexander's points came in the third quarter, which featured a 22-2 Thunder run that set the stage for the furious finish.
"We were down big at that point, and I knew if we didn't turn it around or try to be aggressive that the game was gonna get out of hand and we wouldn't get a chance to win," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "I just tried to be aggressive and try to make the right basketball play."
Oklahoma City has lost two straight games and seven of its past eight. Its last four losses have been by a combined 15 points.
"Our end-of-game execution was actually pretty good tonight in terms of just getting ourselves to a one-possession game after being down for a couple times," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. "I thought we showed good poise there."
--Field Level Media