The Spurs fought with the heart of a champion in Game 6.
They came out firing from the start and built up a lead to as much as 15 points. The Spurs looked hungry in the first half and ready to show the young Oklahoma team they wouldn’t go away so easily. Yet, when the 4th quarter rolled around, that first half energy and enthusiasm was gone. The Spurs looked old and exhausted, and the Thunder -- young, athletic and quick, were ready to take what was theirs.
The Thunder were lead by Kevin Durant with 34 points and 14 rebounds. He remained capable of getting his shot at-will against the Spurs who had no defensive solution to the scoring champion. Durant took over the game offensively during the 3rd and 4th quarters when the Spurs were attempting another run.
Russell Westbrook went for a solid 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. His ability to defer to Durant offensively was a huge key to OKC’s success. Westbrook showed maturity and the ability to play within a team concept; two things he lacked in the Thunder’s playoff exit this time last year.
James Harden had 16 points, including 3-4 shooting from downtown. He again delivered late game 3-pointers that were crucial in the Thunder’s win. Harden has been the Thunder’s Robert Horry. He has the unique knack of coming in cold off the bench and knocking down incredibly high-pressure shots with ease.
The Spurs’ Tim Duncan ended the game with 25 points, while Tony Parker finally started to roll offensively with 29.
The real story for the Spurs was their end of game exhaustion. They had the ability to hang with the Thunder for spurts throughout the game, but simply not the endurance to keep it going throughout. It was those periods of time when the Spurs' stars needed rest -- coming out of the game -- or they turned the defensive pressure down to catch their breath while OKC exploded offensively.
OKC outscored the Spurs 32-18 in the 3rd quarter and 27-18 in the 4th. That alone just goes to show you how the Spurs ran out of gas just as the Thunder turned up the heat.
It is the official changing of the guard in the Western Conference. The Thunder are the best team in the west and quite frankly the best team in the NBA. They’ll play the winner of the Miami vs. Boston series that stands 3-2 Boston next week.
Photo Credit: AP