San Antonio actually lead after the first quarter 24-22, but that was quickly forgotten as the Thunder turned it on in the third, as the Spurs went to sleep.
Oklahoma City went off in the third quarter, outscoring the Spurs 32-17 and never looked back. They beat the Spurs into a pathetic mess the rest of the game, winning game 3 of the Western Conference Finals 102-82.
This breaks the Spurs' 20-game winning streak, the fourth longest winning streak in NBA history and sends coach Pop home to figure out what went horribly wrong.
This loss changes the entire series. It wasn’t just that San Antonio lost. It was how they lost. They were destroyed by Oklahoma, who may now have the formula to beating the Spurs.
OKC put their best defender, Thabo Sefolosha, on Tony Parker and shut him down. Theya stifled the San Antonio offense and left them unable to get into their sets. They also kept their most athletic players on the court throughout the game, instead of going with their normal rotation scheme. This proved to be the trick.
The game plan moving forward for the Thunder was to switch all pick-and-rolls and to simply let their most talented athletic players get the most playing time.
The Thunder were lead by Thabo Sefolosha, who not only marked Tony Parker on defense, but also dropped in 19 points on 4-of-10 3-points shooting. Durant dropped in 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, and Russell Westbrook chipped in 10 points.
Serge Ibaka found his outside shot and added 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Everything was going in for the Thunder. Players that never take perimeter shots were draining them with ease, loose balls went their way, and the Spurs couldn’t buy a shot to save their lives.
San Antonio was lead by no one. They looked horrible. Technically, Tony Parker had 16 points, but he had next to no impact on the game. Stephen Jackson’s 16 points on 4-of-5 3-point shooting was basically the only reason the Spurs scored any points at all in the 3rd quarter.
This was a pathetic showing from a team many pick to win the championship this year. It is the type of loss that can change a series, invigorating the Thunder and demoralizing the Spurs.
The series now stands at 2-1 and a pivotal game 4 will be on Saturday. If OKC can ride their wave of confidence following this beat down into another win at home, the series will be even at two games a piece and the Thunder will definitely have the momentum.
Photo Credit: AP