On this night, youth prevailed over experience.
Behind a monster night from Serge Ibaka and a dominant third quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder ran their winning streak to 11 consecutive games with a 107-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in a marquee matchup between the top two teams in the Western Conference.
Ibaka racked up game-highs of 25 points and 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook tallied 22 points and nine assists to help the defending West champions record the franchise's longest unbeaten stretch since an 11-game run by the Seattle SuperSonics from Nov. 7-24, 1996.
"He did a great job of concentrating from the get go," Westbrook said of Ibaka. "He was ready to play as soon as we tipped ball, and he has been doing great all season long."
Kevin Martin contributed 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting off the bench and Kevin Durant finished with 19 points for Oklahoma City, which outscored the Spurs by a 29-16 count in the third quarter to break open a close contest.
Tony Parker had 14 points and seven assists and Nando de Colo also notched 14 points for the suddenly struggling Spurs, now losers in three of their last four outings following an 18-4 beginning to the season.
The Thunder were behind 43-42 after the Spurs' Tim Duncan knocked down a jumper with just over five minutes left in the first half, but strung together a 9-0 run capped by a Westbrook basket from beyond the arc to take an 8-point lead with 1:18 remaining before intermission.
Oklahoma City would not trail again, though the margin at the half was only five after San Antonio's Gary Neal buried a triple 31.8 seconds prior to the break to bring the Spurs within 53-48.
San Antonio briefly cut the deficit to three early in the third quarter, but the Thunder took control by ripping off 11 consecutive points shortly afterward to claim a 71-56 advantage with four minutes left in the stanza.
The Spurs shot just 33.3 percent (6-of-18) and committed six turnovers that led to eight Oklahoma City points during the pivotal third frame, which ended on Thabo Sefolosha's fast-break slam off a Nick Collison steal that put the Thunder up by an 82-64 score.
"I think just mistakes on our part," Duncan said of the Spurs' struggles in the third quarter. "All in all I think we got a little stagnant in the offensive end."
San Antonio would get the differential down to single digits after a James Anderson steal and dunk with 5:29 left to play trimmed the Thunder lead down to 93-84. Martin drained a 3-pointer just over a minute later, however, igniting a 12-4 spurt that put the game out of reach.
Ibaka was the star of the first quarter, with the Thunder big man pouring in 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting to stake his team to a 30-26 edge at period's end. Oklahoma City shot a sizzling 64.7 percent (11-of-17) over the initial 12 minutes.
A three-point play from Martin to open the second quarter pushed the Thunder's lead to seven, but the Spurs countered with a 6-0 surge and later knotted the score at 39-39 on a long-distance bucket from Anderson.
Though the Thunder bested the Spurs in five games during last season's Western Conference Finals, San Antonio had won nine of the last 10 regular-season bouts between the clubs and dealt Oklahoma City an 86-84 loss in Texas on Nov. 1 ... San Antonio's Manu Ginobili did not play due to a bruised left quadriceps suffered in Saturday's win over Boston. Teammate Stephen Jackson returned to the Spurs' lineup after missing 14 games with a broken right finger, however, and had five points in 19 minutes ... Oklahoma City, which entered the game atop the NBA in free-throw percentage (.839), made good on 27-of-30 foul shots on the night ... San Antonio lost for only the second time in 19 contests this season when outshooting the opposition. The Spurs finished with a field goal percentage of 45.6 compared to the Thunder's 44.7.