SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs have adjusted just fine after a busy off-season.
Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder, who saw the difference while failing to hold another fourth-quarter lead.
Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points and San Antonio beat Oklahoma City 93-85 on Saturday night for its 41st straight home victory, the third-longest streak in NBA history.
"We’re a humble ballclub," Leonard said. "We just want to get better as each game goes as the season goes on. So, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. It’s just about us and are we going to execute, are we going to go out and have energy and play defence. We fought through the whole game tonight."
The Spurs made it 32 straight wins to open this season at home, where they haven’t lost in the regular season since last March. Only Golden State, which has won 48 in a row, and the Chicago teams that won 44 straight in 1995-96 had longer streaks.
The Spurs did so by avenging a season-opening loss to the Thunder. LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 24 points, was held to 11 on 4-for-12 shooting on Oct. 28 in his first game with San Antonio after joining the team as a free agent.
"I didn’t know my role," Aldridge said. "I was trying to find shots. I think I took like seven shots that game. It was very uncomfortable. Out there tonight it was night and day for sure. I feel more comfortable out there."
He and Leonard have teamed to give the Spurs an All-Star frontcourt that has led them in scoring in nine straight games.
Tim Duncan had 11 points for San Antonio, which extended its lead over Oklahoma City (44-22) to 12 games for the second seed in the Western Conference.
The Thunder saw another lead in the fourth quarter vanish a day after falling 99-96 at home to Minnesota when Ricky Rubio’s 3-pointer with two seconds remaining capped a late rally.
"They hit shots down the stretch," said Kevin Durant, who finished with 28 points. "Kawhi Leonard hit a few tough ones. Danny Green hit that big 3 in the corner. They hit shots in the fourth. We didn’t give them nothing. Both teams worked for everything they got tonight. It was a slugfest."
The Spurs (56-10) rallied to extend their franchise best start, trailing entering the fourth quarter for just the fourth time in 32 home games this season. Leonard scored nine in the final period.
David West ignited the rally, scoring six straight points to tie the game at 72 with 9 minutes remaining. The veteran forward shouted encouragement to the team after his second basket and closed the run by rushing in to tip in his own missed short jumper.
West finished with eight points.
Leonard continued the momentum, going 4 for 7 in the fourth quarter. Following a 3-pointer by Green, Leonard crossed over Andre Roberson at the 3-point line and drained a 3 that gave San Antonio an 82-76 lead with 6:30 remaining.
"Three-point shots just give the team energy, especially in the fourth quarter," Leonard said.
Russell Westbrook finished with 19 points on 5-for-16 shooting and had nine turnovers.
Thunder: Oklahoma City is 53-22 since the start of the 2013-14 season with Durant, Westbrook, Roberson, Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka starting. … The Thunder closed the first meeting on a 22-9 run to win 112-106 in Oklahoma City.
Spurs: San Antonio set a league record by winning its 51st straight game when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent, breaking a tie with the 1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers. … San Antonio has led at the half in 27 home games this season, trailing just four times and tied once.
THERE YOU GO
Kevin Martin, who joined the Spurs last week, made his first field goal attempt with San Antonio.
Martin stepped into a 3-pointer and drained it on his only field goal attempt in four minutes. The shot came one possession after Duncan and Tony Parker had to direct the veteran where to be on the court in an offensive set.
San Antonio continues a five-game homestand against potential playoff-bound teams on Tuesday against the Clippers.
The Spurs, who beat Chicago on Thursday, host Portland on Thursday and Golden State on Saturday.
Thunder: Host Portland on Monday.
Spurs: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.