NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, May 21st (All times Eastern)
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1) at (1) San Antonio Spurs (1-0), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs will try to take a 2-0 cushion over the Oklahoma City Thunder when the two teams continue the Western Conference finals Wednesday night at AT&T Center.
San Antonio took the series lead Monday night with a 122-105 home victory in Game 1.
The Spurs used a balanced scoring attack and clamped down defensively late in the third quarter to claim the win. Five San Antonio players scored in double figures and the Spurs outshot the Thunder from both the field and behind the 3-point line.
Russell Westbrook knocked down a jumper with 5:09 left in the third to give the Thunder a 76-75 lead -- their first since a 5-4 edge early in the first -- but after Kevin Durant drained a jumper of his own nearly 30 seconds later, San Antonio turned up the intensity on the defensive end.
The Spurs held Oklahoma City to just one field goal over the next seven-plus minutes, turning a one-point deficit into a 13-point advantage early in the fourth quarter.
Durant's 3-pointer just over three minutes into the fourth brought the visitors within 95-85, but the Thunder failed to get any closer the rest of the way as the Spurs ran away with the victory.
Tim Duncan led the charge offensively with 27 points and seven rebounds, while Manu Ginobili and Danny Green combined for 34 points on 7-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Ginobili netted 18 points, while Green and Kawhi Leonard each scored 16 in the win
Tony Parker, who sustained a left hamstring strain in San Antonio's series- clinching Game 5 win over Portland in the conference semifinals, supplied 14 points and 12 assists for the Spurs.
"We were taking what we were given," Duncan said. "We knew we'd be able to get into the middle and attack a little more than we have."
The reason the Spurs were able to attack the middle was due to the absence of OKC's big man, Serge Ibaka. He injured his left calf in Game 6 of the conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers and is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason.
San Antonio exploited the advantage and trounced the Thunder in the paint to the tune of 66-32.
"We're a no-excuse team," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "Serge is out. He's not coming back. We have to play better."
The Spurs shot 57.5 percent from the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc. Oklahoma City shot respectable percentages of 46.3 from the floor and 44.4 outside the 3-point line.
Durant registered 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Westbrook finished with 25 points, seven assists and five boards for the Thunder, who won all four meetings with the Spurs during the regular season.
The Thunder trailed by as many 15 points in the first half before Westbrook and Durant fueled OKC's comeback in the third, scoring all but two of the team's 23 points in the period.
Westbrook registered the Thunder's first nine points in the third, including a jumper with 8:13 on the clock that brought the team within 72-68.
Ginobili buried a 3-pointer to quell the Westbrook barrage, but Durant ripped off five straight points and Westbrook followed with a free throw and a jumper to give Oklahoma City a 76-75 lead.
Durant followed two free throws from Boris Diaw with another jumper, but the Thunder managed just one field goal -- a Durant jumper with 22.9 seconds left in the frame -- for nearly nine minutes as the Spurs surged ahead for good.
"The third quarter was obviously our best quarter, but we didn't close out well," Durant said. "We're not taking any moral victories out of it."
Game 3 will be Sunday night in Oklahoma City.
05/21 10:20:28 ET