The San Antonio Spurs, hitting their stride as the playoffs arrive, dealt Oklahoma City a crushing 113-88 defeat on Tuesday in another blow to the Thunder’s post-season hopes.
Kawhi Leonard poured in 26 points in just 24 minutes for the defending NBA champion Spurs, who dominated from start to finish.
The Thunder endured their fourth straight defeat and fell out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
The Thunder fell one half-game behind New Orleans in the race for the eighth seed after the Pelicans defeated Golden State 103-100 on Tuesday.
Desperate for a victory, the Pelicans rallied from 14 points down to stun the Warriors — who have clinched the top seed in the West.
Anthony Davis scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Pelicans.
In Oklahoma City, the Spurs were led by Leonard, who connected on 10 of his 15 attempts from the floor, the Spurs shot 52.8 percent from the field.
Their eighth successive victory tightened the race for the Southwest Division title. They are now 1 1/2 games behind division leaders Houston and one half-game behind Memphis.
Russell Westbrook finished with 17 points and six steals for Oklahoma City, but no other Thunder player scored more than 11 points.
The Spurs took a 64-41 lead into halftime. Leonard had scored 23 points by then.
He and the rest of the Spurs starters were resting on the bench by the fourth quarter, after San Antonio led by as many as 34 in the third period.
The good news for Oklahoma City as they battle for a playoff berth is that three of their last four games of the regular season are against teams with losing records: Sacramento, Indiana and Minnesota.
The Pelicans, trying to make the post-season for the first time since 2011, have five games remaining, three of them against tough Western Conference playoff teams in Memphis, Houston and San Antonio. – Agence France-Presse