SAN ANTONIO, Texas — It looked pretty good for three quarters but unfortunately for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs DOMINATED the fourth and final stanza on their way to a come-from-behind 101-98 win Sunday night in the opening game of the NBA Western Conference Finals.
The Thunder played terrific defense in the opening 36 minutes to take a 71-62 lead before a quiet sold-out crowd at the AT&T Center.
But San Antonio zipped out to a 20-5 run to start the final quarter and the Thunder couldn’t stop them, nor could OKC make any shots down the stretch.
The momentum swung in a hurry and when it went bad, it went quickly for the Thunder, who lost for only the second time in 10 playoff games this post-season.
Now we know why Manu Ginobili is so important to the streaking Spurs.
The nine-year veteran from Argentina missed all three of the regular season games against the Thunder due to injury.
In fact, Ginobili only played half of the Spurs’ games before the playoffs.
But when he came in with 6:31 left in the first quarter, he ended the period scoring the Spurs final seven points and started the second quarter with a 3-point shot to put San Antonio up by five.
The former NBA “6th Man Of The Year” spurted again in the final quarter on his way to a team high 26 points off the bench as the Spurs won for an amazing 19th consecutive game dating back to the regular season.
In fact, San Antonio is now 9-0 in the playoffs and they’ve now won 30 of their last 32 games this year overall.
Afterwards, OKC head coach Scott Brooks credited the Spurs with making tough shots in the fourth Quarter rather than poor Thunder defense but he did admit his team missed a lot of shots they normally make.
For the game, the “Big 3″ of OKC, Durant, Westbrook and Harden, combined to hit just 22-of-57 shots from the floor.
Harden is normally a beast driving the lane and getting to the charity stripe.
Sunday night he was 0-0 at the foul line.
The Spurs turned it over a very sloppy 14 times in the opening half only to settle down in the final half, committing just three turnovers.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were pretty upset after the game, feeling like they had San Antonio right where they wanted them and both all-stars were pretty adamant in their thinking that the Thunder can come back and win game two Tuesday night, also here in San Antonio.
Spurs all-star Tony Parker told us his team wasn’t thinking about “the streak” at all, that they feel like they have to play MUCH better Tuesday night to take a 2-0 series lead.
(Bob Barry Jr – in San Antonio, TX)