Westbrook scores 34, lifts Thunder over Spurs

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) hangs onto the basket after a dunk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014, in Miami. James was called for a technical foul on the play. The Heat won 101-91. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

AP and AFP

Russell Westbrook scored 34 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 114-106 on Thursday in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals.

The Thunder earned their sixth straight regular-season victory over the defending NBA champions in the first meeting between the teams since San Antonio topped Oklahoma City in six games on the way to a fifth title.

The Thunder was without reigning MVP Kevin Durant, and the Spurs were missing Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, but there was still plenty of firepower.

Serge Ibaka had 21 points, including going 3 for 4 on 3-pointers for Oklahoma City. Steven Adams added 16 points and 15 rebounds to offset San Antonio center Tiago Splitter matching his season-high with 14 points.

Matt Bonner had 17 points to lead seven players in double figures for San Antonio, which has lost five of six.

Tim Duncan had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Spurs.

Westbrook led Oklahoma’s aggressive defensive effort that disrupted San Antonio’s continuous ball movement early. Help defenders jumped into the passing lanes for steals and tips, and players were active in drawing offensive fouls on screens.

The Spurs rallied while Westbrook sat for six minutes bridging the third and fourth quarters.

Manu Ginobili leapt in the air and feigned a pass right, feeding Splitter on the left side for a layup and a 77-75 lead to close the quarter.

Westbrook made two contested layups upon his return to tie it at 86 with 8 minutes remaining. He then was given a technical along with Cory Joseph after they ran down the court slapping away at each other’s arms.

At Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, Chris Paul added 22 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers had a 100-86 victory over the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors.

Blake Griffin missed his first eight shots and was 5 for 16 overall with 18 points and 15 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 12 boards.

Klay Thompson scored 15 points, and Stephen Curry 14 for Golden State, which has lost three of five following a 23-3 start that included a franchise-record 16-game winning streak.

Elsewhere, the Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 102-91 in a spiteful clash in New York that saw Quincy Acy ejected after a forearm shove on John Wall with 5:31 to play sparked an altercation.

Also, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds against his former team and the Chicago Bulls beat Los Angeles 113-93 with Lakers star Kobe Bryant resting his sore body.