OKC Thunder: Gregg Popovich knew Thunder would not quit

San Antonio coach said before Game 3: “The 2-0 (series deficit) won't faze them. They'll come out and play a great game at home. It will reinforce their confidence and their approach.”
by Ryan Aber Published: May 31, 2012

THUNDER KILLER

The last time Spurs reserve forward DeJuan Blair played against OKC was March 16 when he had 22 points (11 for 15 from the field) and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. On Thursday night, Blair had 10 points (5 for 7 from the field) and six rebounds in 9:47 of playing time.

DEFENSE TURNS IT UP

Asked about the Thunder's changing defensive alignment against the Spurs in the first two games, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said neither team had much to crow about defensively in the first two games.

“Well, I don't want to speak for Scotty (Brooks) but I'm going to guess that he was probably as happy with their defense as we were with our defense,” Popovich said before the game. “I don't think either team did much of a clinic on defense in Game 2.

“So I would expect tonight that both teams would concentrate a lot harder in that area.”

The Thunder especially did that, forcing four turnovers in the first three minutes.

Oklahoma City scored on just two of the ensuing possessions.

In the first half, the Thunder forced 13 turnovers but converted them into just 12 points. Oklahoma City still lead by 13.

THABO GETS FLAGRANT

In the closing seconds of the first quarter, Thabo Sefolosha caught Manu Ginobili with a forearm close to his neck as Ginobili tried to move around Sefolosho.

He was immediately called for a flagrant one foul, drawing a loud reaction from the crowd.

Ginobili hit the two free throws putting the Spurs ahead by two after one quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Kevin Durant was assessed a technical foul.

RACKING UP DIMES

Each of the Thunder's first six baskets of the second quarter -- as they went from being down one to up 10 -- came with the help of an assist.

Russell Westbrook had two while four other players contributed the rest as the Thunder went on to finish with 23 assists, the most they've had in the postseason.

“It was a point of emphasis to start the game,” Westbrook, who finished with nine assists, said. “I think everybody did a great job of making the extra pass.”


by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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