The San Antonio Spurs insisted their 20-game winning streak meant nothing, and would mean even less when — and if — their next loss came.
That loss finally arrived Thursday night compliments of the Thunder with a 102-82 victory in Game 3 before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Spurs hadn't lost since April 11, had lost only twice in 33 games since March 21, and now all they have to show for it is a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
San Antonio's invincibility began to disappear in the second quarter, when OKC took the lead for good at the 10:11 mark and led by as many as 27.
The Thunder was so thoroughly in command, four Spurs starters sat the entire fourth quarter, including pending Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
After getting swept ashore in San Antonio earlier this week, the tide of momentum did a U-turn as the Thunder shored up key facets where it had struggled in Games 1 and 2.
En route to taking a 78-60 lead through three quarters, OKC had outscored the Spurs 34-12 in the paint, 14-1 in fast-break points and 15-9 in second-chance points.
The Thunder wound up scoring 20 points off 21 turnovers while committing just eight turnovers itself.
The Spurs were very gracious in victory earlier this week, and nothing changed after suffering their first loss in 49 days.
"They played really well," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said afterward. "They played like it was a close-out game, both offensively and defensively. They were very active, physical, they moved the ball well on offense, and they did all those things better than we did. They beat us good."
A few seconds later, Popovich suddenly recalled: "I forgot about the turnovers. That doesn't help. That sort of characterized the beginning of the game and gave them a really good head start in that sense as far as the way we were playing."
Duncan finished with 11 points, five blocks and two rebounds in 26 minutes and left for good with 4:15 left in the third quarter, when the Thunder led 67-48.
"They were excellent," Duncan said. "They were great. They started out strong. I thought we kind of weathered that storm early on, but they kept it on.
"We expected that kind of response from them in the third game and we didn't respond really well to that."
Parker finished with 16 points and four assists, but also committed five turnovers while being hounded by Thunder standout Thabo Sefolosha, who finished with 19 points, six rebounds, six steals and one blocked shot.
"They played harder than us tonight and deserved the win," Parker said. "They just played better. We have to play a lot better if we want to win here."
Stephen Jackson kept the Spurs within striking distance, scoring 16 points and shooting 6 for 7 from the field, including 4 for 5 from 3-point range.
"They flat out beat us," Jackson said. "They came out with more energy. They played better defense and knocked down shots. They just gave us an old-fashion butt-whipping."
Of the 20-game winning streak, Jackson said: "We're human. We had a good run. It's just one loss. We have just got to get ready to play the next game."
Game 4 is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at The Peake. If the Spurs lose for the second time in their last 22 games, the series will be tied at 2.