How do you go from 20 straight wins to three straight losses? You have to go up against a blood-thirsty team coming of age at just the right moment, a group being led by three of the coldest killers in the world. We were surprised OKC went in to San Antonio and stole Game 5 last night 108-103, and if we were surprised, the Spurs must’ve been downright shocked. Kevin Durant (27 points) hit the game-clinching free throws, James Harden (20 points, 12 in the fourth) hit the two most important triples and Russell Westbrook (23 points, 12 dimes) got the better of Tony Parker. Once Manu Ginobili (season-high 34 points) missed a three in the closing seconds, it was all she wrote, setting up what’s going to be one of the craziest NBA scenes ever in Game 6 in OKC (they might literally tear the roof off) … With less than a minute to go, OKC nursing a two-point lead and a Thunder possession quickly falling apart, James Harden hit an awkward three-pointer where the only possible thing that could’ve made it better were if he did the Sam Cassell Big Balls Dance. In fact in the fourth quarter, the Thunder countered every punch from the old reliables. One particular back-and-forth nearly capped it with about five minutes left. First, Westbrook got into the lane, didn’t force anything (he’s gotten so much better at this) and hit Serge Ibaka, who then drilled a 20-footer. On the other end, Ibaka pinned Parker’s (20 points) shot against the glass, which led to a fast-break. James Harden finished it off with a four-point play to push the lead to 13. However, right after that, the Spurs reeled off 11 consecutive points in part because Westbrook reverted to using his tunnel vision glasses … Barely nine minutes into the game, San Antonio already had six turnovers, a few of them directly leading to Thunder buckets during a quick 9-0 run by the visitors (it eventually was extended to an 18-6 burst to end the quarter). The Spurs better start cleaning up their act soon. Right now, all they’re doing – as Tony Parker so eloquently did during one slow-mo replay in the first quarter – is getting ripped and then transitioning into epic, The Sandlot-level belly flops … The Spurs were all over the place in the first half (at one point missing 11 straight shots), and while Ol’ Pop has spent parts of this series giving Scott Brooks a crash course in “Winning Basketball 101,” he was throwing some really random lineups out there in the first half. We weren’t sure where they were going with all this but no one was thrown off worse than Tony Parker. He was a -12, and we’re also taking points away because of all of his awful flopping. Then to top it off on the half’s final play, Russell Westbrook literally dribbled the ball off his face … Throughout the first half – and this is something that originally came to fruition out in OKC over the weekend – it felt like the Thunder finally figured it out… that it’s not just about some tag-team relay race where they can take turns handling the baton, but that when you get deep into the playoffs, it’s about getting “the others” to contribute something. Anything. Then at the end, you can just go to Durant and he can get his Trevor Hoffman on … Keep reading to hear about Manu Ginobili’s incredible third quarter …
Smack / Jun 5, 2012 / 12:20 am
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