It ain’t working in the Peake. The Thunder went 8-0 to start the game, fell behind for a couple of minutes either side of the end of the first quarter, and then went into Total Destruction Mode. With five minutes left, the Spurs were down 25 (!), but Pop knew it was a done deal long before that: neither Tony Parker nor Tim Duncan played in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City 102, San Antonio 82, and the Spurs locomotive is at least temporarily derailed. “Now it’s a series,” said radio guy Matt Pinto.
The difference? Loud City, for one, of course. And for another, Thabo. In a wholly expected move, Scott Brooks decided to put Sefolosha on Parker; in a totally unexpected move, Sefolosha played 36 minutes, about as many as he’d played in the first two games. In those minutes, he bagged six rebounds, pulled off six steals, and scored 19 points, second only to Kevin Durant (22). Those six steals contribute to this telltale statistic: the Spurs turned the ball over 21 times, the Thunder only seven. With Thabo doing more of the dirty work, Russell Westbrook was content to move the ball around, pulling down seven rebounds and serving up nine dimes, not to mention ten points and four more steals. Oh, you wanted another telltale statistic? OKC put up twelve more shots than San Antonio, and hit ten more.
The Spurs, mostly due to Stephen Jackson’s sharpshooting in reserve, actually shot better from outside the circle than from within; they put up 26 treys, 11 of which went. (The Thunder went 6-22 from Out There; Thabo hoisted ten by himself, making four, and Durant missed all four of his.) And inexplicably, Manu Ginobili had an off night, by Ginobili standards anyway, collecting five of his eight points from the foul line. Jackson and Parker shared the scoring honors with 16 each.
“We will not be swept!” was clearly the message tonight. It won’t be that on Saturday night, obviously — but it has to be just as emphatic.