The San Antonio Spurs (21-6) were defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-4) on Saturday, Dec. 21 in front of a sold-out crowd at the AT&T Center.

The Spurs, who were notably without forward Kawhi Leonard, started the game off poorly in the first quarter shooting 9-for-26 with a 34.6 field goal percentage.

“I’m sure we would have liked to have Kawhi, but that happens to every NBA team at some point in the season,” reflected Head Coach Gregg Popovich after the game. “You don’t lose just because of that. They played better than we did tonight.”

Spurs guard Marco Belinelli picked up his scoring to help with the absence of Kawhi, scoring 11 points in the first quarter, with three three-pointers. Belinelli ended the game with 17 points for the Spurs.

Despite the bad shooting and Kawhi’s absence, the Spurs found themselves tied going into the second quarter with the score level at 21.

The Thunder found their rhythm in the second, outscoring the Spurs 40-29 while shooting a blazing 55.6 percent from the field.

“There are a lot of factors that go into a win and a loss but our demise was the second quarter; we gave up forty points,” said Popovich after the game. “That forty points really put us in a hole.”

The Spurs stayed behind throughout most of the third quarter, improving their shooting percentage behind Tony Parker’s 10 third quarter points. Parker would end the game with 23 points and eight assists.

Heading into the fourth quarter down nine points, with the score at 85-76, the Spurs would go on an 8-3 run to come within three points of the lead at 87-84. But it would prove to be their final push. The Thunder would stave off the Spurs for the remainder of the game, with the score ending at 113-100.

Thunder guard Reggie Jackson proved to be the difference maker for Oklahoma City throughout the game. Jackson had 15 points going into the fourth quarter, ending the game with 21 total points, four assists and three rebounds.

“He’s done a great job,” Popovich said after the game, commenting on Jackson’s play. “He’s been a big factor in both games, he’s improved but his confidence level and his aggressiveness at both ends of the floor have been fantastic. He’s been a real problem for us.”

In the last meeting between the two teams, Reggie Jackson torched the Spurs scoring 23 points.

“We have to find a solution for him (Reggie Jackson), ” Tony Parker said after the game. “We cant let him score that much. That’s two games in a row that he hurt us the most.”

The loss to Oklahoma City marks the Spurs’ second loss from a string of tough games, with this game being San Antonio’s sixth in nine days.

“I thought our guys, with what they’ve gone through lately, I thought that their effort was fantastic,” Popovich said. “I was real proud of them.”

The Spurs will look to bounce back against the Toronto Raptors (10-14) at the AT&T Center on Monday, Dec. 23.

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