EVIDENTLY, POPOVICH WASN'T KIDDING
Given the Thunder's 102-82 victory in Game 3 on Thursday night, evidently San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn't kidding during his Wednesday interview session before his team flew to OKC:
Q: Describe Oklahoma City for us. What are the challenges of playing …
Popovich: “It's flat. It's clean. Good people. Nice place to live. That's really all I know about it.”
Q: How about the team?
Popovich: “One hell of a team. Maybe the hardest team we've ever played against to guard. Unbelievably talented, committed. They're aggressive, they're physical. Obviously, wellcoached. It's a team that creates a myriad of problems and they're consistent. They just keep coming at you. They're in the Western Conference finals for a reason.”
Q: Will they play better at home?
Popovich: “I hope they don't. Chances are they will, but it's not like they've played badly and we've played well. It's a game of changing momentum and runs and that sort of thing. We've scored down the stretches in fourth quarters when we needed to. That was fortunate for us. Who knows if that's because you're at home or because you executed well. It's always a little bit of both. The 20 won't faze them. They'll come out and play a great game at home. It will reinforce their confidence and their approach. So it will be a heck of a Game 3.”
As the TNT crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith did their postgame show over the southwest tunnel at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a crowd of roughly 500 people stayed behind for roughly an hour to observe, applaud, cheer and chant whenever it seemed appropriate.
FISH PASSES KOBE
Thunder reserve guard Derek Fisher passed former teammate Kobe Bryant to the No. 3 spot on the all-time list for career playoff games with 221. Fisher trails only Robert Horry (244) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (237).
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.”