OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Serge Ibaka tied his career-best with 25 points and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 107-93 Monday night to maintain sole possession of the best record in the NBA.
The Thunder took control with a string of 11 straight points during the third quarter, punctuated by Nick Collison's putback that made it 71-56 with 4:27 remaining in the period. On the next possession, Ibaka ripped away his third straight offensive rebound before heading toward midcourt and flexing his muscles.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich kept his starters parked on the bench throughout the fourth quarter, even as San Antonio cut an 18-point lead in half with about 5 1/2 minutes left.
Tony Parker and Nando De Colo had 14 points apiece to lead the Spurs, who could have created a virtual tie for the best record with a win.
The Nationals face the Rockies at Coors Field for the first half of this work week. Here are three things to watch for:
Can the Nationals stay above .500? Stephen Strasburg’s impressive start along with Ryan Zimmerman’s two homers and two RBI kept Washington from being swept by the lowly Marlins.
Who will produce with Anthony Rendon out? While the Nats 3B was sidelined with an elbow injury after being hit by a pitch in Saturday’s outing against the Marlins, Howie Kendrick started in his place. Kendrick went 1-for-3 vs Miami with one RBI and one strikeout. In terms of replacing Rendon’s hitting prowess, Victor Robles has started a streak of his own. The youngster is hot on a seven game hit streak, including a bunt over the infield Sunday.
Will the Nationals ever sure up their end game? Yesterday’s ninth inning was on the brink of disaster. Kyle Barraclough allowed back-to-back walks, then Sean Doolittle loaded the bases. Luckily for the Nats, crisis averted.
Download the MyTeams app (https://www.nbcsports.com/washington/myteams-nbc-sports ) for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.
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Friday saw the Toronto Maple Leafs pull ahead 3-2 and the Colorado Avalanche eliminate the favored Calgary Flames. Saturday provided another elimination game and two teams pulled ahead 3-2 in their series.
Here are the results from Saturday.
St. Louis Blues eliminate Winnipeg Jets with 3-2 win
The Blues return to the second round of the playoffs after they were eliminated in the first round last season.
The Blues rally started 23 seconds into the game, when Jaden Schwartz put home a Brayden Schenn rebound.
Schwartz followed with two more goals, completing the hat trick. It's the second natural hat trick in a playoff series clinching game since Geoff Courtnall in 1992.
The Blues await the winner of the Nashville-Dallas series.
Dallas Stars pull ahead of Nashville Predators in 5-3 victory
The Stars were able to steal one from the Predators at Bridgestone Arena thanks to Jason Dickinson and Alexander Radulov's two goal performances.
Tyler Seguin added a goal of his own to pull the Stars ahead 4-2 at the end of the second period, and Ben Bishop recorded 30 saves.
The Stars have a chance to close the series at home Monday night.
Washington Capitals take upperhand on Carolina Hurricanes with 6-0 shutout
After dropping Game 4 in Carolina 2-1, the Caps exploded for six goals against the Hurricanes in a 6-0 win.
Nicklas Backstrom scored the opening two goals. He leads the Capitals in playoff goals with five and had a four point night.
The Caps also got production from their bottom six with Brett Connolly's goal and Nic Dowd's converted penalty shot. It's the first penalty shot a Caps player has successfully made in the playoffs.
Braden Holtby's shutout gave him seven in the playoffs, surpassing Olaf Kolzig's six for the franchise lead. The Caps have a chance to win the series in Carolina Monday night.
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