The Spurs hadn’t been challenged the entire playoffs. They swept both their first and second round matchups and were in the midst of an 18-game winning streak. Well, even though they came into the 4th quarter down by nine points, they now have 19 straight wins and a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Oklahoma City looked like they had figured out how to thwart the Spurs offense through three quarters of play. Unfortunately for OKC, Ginobili came out with a chip on his shoulder in the 4th, and put the Spurs on his back for the ride.
It was the 4th quarter that the Oklahoma City legs got tired, and Ginobili went bananas. Manu went off for 26 points on 9-14 shooting from the field, 3-5 from 3-point range, five rebounds and three assists. More importantly, he took over the game in the 4th quarter and made everyone else on the floor look like they were playing in slow motion with his slithery drives to the hole and effortless finger-rolls.
Even though Kevin Durant got 27 points and 10 rebounds, Stephen Jackson did a phenomenal job in stifling the Oklahoma City sharp shooter. James Harden ended up with 19 points, but nine of those points came in the last 50 seconds of the game when the outcome was already decided. Harden was largely absent from the flow of the game and turned the ball over four times on 7-17 shooting. The Thunder are going to need more production out of the 6th-man-of-the-year if they are going to win this series.
On the San Antonio side of the ball, Tim Duncan managed 16 points and 11 rebounds. Duncan’s stats only partially reflect his impact on the game as his fingerprints were all over this win.
Most of the San Antonio offense now flows through Tony Parker and he didn’t disappoint with 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Westbrook is one of the few guards in the league that is as quick as Parker, and for most of the game Westbrook’s defense slowed Parker down. But in the 4th, the Thunder looked a half-step slow and the Spurs took advantage. With 12 bench points from Gary Neal and nine from Tiago Splitter, the Spurs put together a balanced attack that wore down OKC in the end.
One thing is certain coming out of game 1 of the Western Conference Finals; this is going to be an amazing series. Game 2 tips off on Tuesday in San Antonio. Look for Durant, Westbrook, and Harden to be looking to even the score.
Photo Credit: AP