Thunder thump Spurs, lag 2-1 in series

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 25 2014 11:23:47 PM EDT
Updated On: May 26 2014 12:51:42 AM EDT
Oklahoma City Thunder dunk

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Serge Ibaka returned to action Sunday, and the Oklahoma City Thunder got back into the Western Conference finals.

The forward, who missed the series' first two games due to a calf strain, scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots, helping the Thunder post a 106-97 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Guard Russell Westbrook scored 26 points, and forward Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who trail the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 will be played Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

Ibaka's presence set the tone for the Thunder defensively. Oklahoma City limited San Antonio to 39.6 percent shooting, while the Thunder hit 45.7 percent of their shots from the floor.

Leading by seven, the Thunder began the fourth quarter with a flurry. Buckets by guard Reggie Jackson and Durant plus a 3-pointer from forward Caron Butler pushed the advantage to 90-76 with 10:11 left.

San Antonio tried to respond, but it was the Thunder's night. Oklahoma outscored the Spurs 9-6 over the next four minutes before Spurs coach Gregg Popovich emptied his bench with his team trailing by 17.

Westbrook also tallied eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, though he committed five turnovers.

Guard Many Ginobili led the Spurs with 23 points off the bench. Forward Tim Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds. Guard Tony Parker was held to nine points and four assists.

It only took 38 seconds for Ibaka to make his first impact of the game. He scored the game's first basket on a midrange jumper. He then hit his next three shots.

However, he made his biggest impact on defense. The Spurs scored only 12 points in the paint during the first quarter as they held a 29-28 lead. The combination of Ibaka and center Steven Adams forced San Antonio to alter their shows when driving into the lane.

Ginobili came off the bench to settle down the Spurs and help them keep the Thunder's lead in single digits. He knocked down two 3-pointers in the final minute of the first half.

However, after a terrible shooting start, Westbrook answered each of Ginobili's shots with a 3-pointer of his own to close out the half. Oklahoma City emerged with its first halftime lead of the series, 57-53.

NOTES: In addition to reinserting F Serge Ibaka into the lineup, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks started G Reggie Jackson in place of G Thabo Sefolosha, who didn't score a point in the series' first two games. "He gives us another guy that can attack," Brooks said of Jackson. "He gives us another guy that can play pick-and-roll offensively. He gives us another guy that can get opportunities on the side to attack their defense." .. San Antonio G Tony Parker took advantage of the three days off between Game 2 and Game 3. "I feel pretty good," Parker said. "The extra days definitely helped, so hopefully ... I can get my full speed back. I was surprised when I looked at the schedule. I was like, man, if I can survive the first two games, I'll be OK for the rest of the series."

Comments

The views expressed below are not those of News4Jax or its affiliated companies. By clicking on "Post," you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and your comment is in compliance with such terms. Readers, please help keep this discussion respectful and on topic by flagging comments that are offensive or inappropriate (hover over the commenter's name and you'll see the flag option appear on right side of that line). And remember, respect goes both ways: Tolerance of others' opinions is important in a free discourse. If you're easily offended by strong opinions, you might skip reading comments entirely.

blog comments powered by Disqus