By PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tony Parker scored 42 points and broke the San Antonio Spurs franchise record for career assists, leading a 107-96 win over the NBA-best Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.
The Thunder (18-5) nearly suffered their first blowout loss before closing the gap late, while the convincing win was just the springboard San Antonio needed before spending next three weeks on the road — where the Spurs have hardly been as dominant.
All-Star Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Parker became just the fifth player to score 40 or more in a game this season, and also had nine assists. The record-breaker was a dish to Tim Duncan — appropriately enough— in the third quarter that put him past Avery Johnson for the all-time franchise mark.
Parker, who's spent his entire 11-year career with the Spurs, has 4,477 assists.
Despite the record, Parker's passing was upstaged by his unstoppable scoring.
The Thunder has jumped ahead of the rest of the NBA, in part, by being the best road team. But this time they ran straight into the NBA's best home team, a distinction that was never clearer than in the third quarter when the Spurs tripled an 8-point lead in a span of 8 ½ minutes.
Parker's most dazzling game in three years saw to that.
He scored 16 points in the third, going 6 for 9 from the floor and sinking all four of his foul shots. In a game worthy of a standing ovation, his came before it was even over — with 2:28 left in the third, when he surpassed the franchise record that Johnson had held since 2001.
The record dish fittingly came on a pick-and-roll with Duncan, his longtime co-pilot in San Antonio's last three championships. And up against the NBA's winningest team, the duo looked as though they didn't even Manu Ginobili, who's missed the last month with a broken hand.
It was Parker's best night since scoring 43 points in a playoff win over Dallas in 2009. It also extended San Antonio's winning streak to four, the longest all season.
The only other players to score 40 or more this season are Kobe Bryant — who's already done it three times — Dwight Howard, Anthony Morrow and LeBron James.
Duncan had 13 points and 15 rebounds. Rookie Kawhi Leonard, getting his starting job back so he could guard Durant, added 15 points and hit all three of his 3-pointers.
James Harden had 19 points off the bench for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook had 18 points and six assists.
At times, it was an intense start to the Thunder's five-game road trip. A scramble for a loose ball between Parker and Westbrook in the second quarter escalated into a quick scrape of swats and kicks, with Parker getting whistled for a personal foul and Westbrook shoving aside the Frenchman's leg so he could get up.
Parker, visibly annoyed, was pulled off the pile by Blair, and the players on the Thunder's bench sprung to their feet. Parker responded by darting full steam on a fast break and drawing a foul at the rim. One possession later, Parker hit a tough 17-footer falling away, adding to an entire game's worth of highlights.
The Spurs improved to 13-1 at home, best in the NBA. But they'll now play their next nine away from the AT&T Center as part of their annual rodeo road trip.
NOTES: Thunder G Thebo Sefolosha missed his fourth consecutive game with a sore right foot. ... Following Thursday's win over New Orleans, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ridiculed a reporter who suggested that 7-footer Tiago Splitter attempted anything but layups, saying his last jumper was probably in Spain in 2003. Two nights later? Splitter badly missed a 13-foot fadeaway with the shot clock running down.