The San Antonio Spurs gave Oklahoma City a lesson in championship poise with a 101-98 victory on Sunday that stretched their remarkable win streak to 19 games and gave them the early advantage in the Western Conference Finals.
The veteran Spurs, who have won four NBA championships under coach Gregg Popovich, trailed by nine after three quarters but kept their cool and sprinted to the finish to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Manu Ginobili scored a team-high 26 points off the bench, and Tony Parker added 18 as San Antonio outscored the visiting Thunder 39-27 in the fourth to pass a rare post-season test.
The red-hot Spurs remain perfect in the post-season and have now tied the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers for longest win streak between the regular season and playoffs.
Kevin Durant netted 27 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, who defeated the last two NBA champions in their previous rounds and were in good shape to move ahead of San Antonio before getting blitzed in the fourth.
The young Thunder are playing in the West Finals for the second consecutive year as they try to break through to a title, but San Antonio showed them firsthand that they still have lessons to learn.