Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - While the San Antonio Spurs keep on rolling, the Oklahoma City Thunder may be on their way to an early end to a trying season.
Kawhi Leonard poured in 26 points in just 24 minutes and the Spurs dominated from start-to-finish to deal the reeling Thunder a fourth straight loss, a 113-88 setback that dropped them out of possession of the Western Conference's final playoff seed.
With Leonard leading the way by hitting 10-of-15 attempts, San Antonio shot 52.8 percent from the field en route to an eighth consecutive victory that matched a season high. The reigning NBA champs also tightened the race in the Southwest Division, closing within 1 1/2 games of first-place Houston and a half-game behind Memphis.
The injury-riddled Thunder, on the other hand, fell a half-game back of New Orleans in the race for the No. 8 seed after the Pelicans defeated Golden State on Tuesday. Oklahoma City has now dropped six of its last seven.
Russell Westbrook finished with 17 points and six steals, but no other Thunder player scored more than 11 points.
Oklahoma City kept it close for about five minutes before the Spurs embarked on a mammoth run that bled into the early stages of the second quarter, and they never let the Thunder make a game of it from there.
"We didn't come out of the gates very good," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. "They took us out of our offense."
San Antonio outscored the Thunder by a 28-5 margin over an overwhelming nine- minute stretch, turning a two-point edge into a commanding 35-10 lead with 9:58 remaining in the second quarter.
Leonard and Manu Ginobili were the catalysts, with the former netting seven points and Ginobili burying a pair of treys during the tear.
Oklahoma City, which shot a miserable 19 percent (4-of-21) for the first quarter, countered with an 11-0 surge to regain some momentum. However, a Danny Green triple shortly afterward began a string of seven straight San Antonio points that had the Spurs up 52-31 with four minutes left in the half.
San Antonio cruised into the break owning a 63-41 advantage, with Leonard having already tallied 23 points by that time.
"We're going to need me and everyone else to step up if we're going to win another championship," Leonard said.
He and the rest of the Spurs' regulars were confined to the bench by the start of the fourth quarter, as San Antonio led by as many as 34 in the third and were ahead by an 88-57 count entering the final stanza.
Leonard has averaged 21.5 points and shot 63.4 percent from the floor (52- of-82) over the Spurs' last six games. The standout forward also matched a career-high for points on Tuesday and had 26 as well in Sunday's win over Golden State ... Spurs center Tiago Splitter sat out a second straight game with a right calf injury ... The Thunder have now lost three in a row at Chesapeake Energy Arena after a 20-2 stretch at home ... Oklahoma City had won six straight in the series before dropping a 130-91 decision in San Antonio on March 25 ... Three of the Thunder's final four regular-season games are against sub-.500 teams (Sacramento, Indiana, Minnesota).