While the Thunder struggled to score, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili used the fourth quarter as his breakout game in the 2012 postseason. San Antonio's sixth man scored 11 points in the final frame, making all three of his field-goal attempts while working his way to the line five times, making all five.
Prior to Sunday night, Ginobili had scored more than 15 points only twice in the Spurs' first eight playoff games. He had reached the 20-point mark just once.
When the Thunder took a 71-62 lead into the final period, though, the Spurs got a spark from an unlikely source. Reserve forward Tiago Splitter scored four of his five fourth-quarter points on back-to-back layups in the first minute of the period. His inspired play immediately swung the momentum back to the Spurs, and things just snowballed for the Thunder from there.
The worse part of Sunday's loss was perhaps the wasted effort the Thunder received from its role players, who actually showed up and played terrific ball on the road.
Derek Fisher, Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison combined to score 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting with 12 rebounds and four assists. That trio had just two turnovers, while supplying solid defense and one timely shot after another.
Who knows if we'll ever see that routine reproduced from that bunch again in San Antonio?
It's all the more reason to think the Thunder let one get away.
“We had this game going into the fourth,” said Durant, who scored a game-high 27 points. “It's tough, but we can't hang our heads, man. It's a long series. We have to keep playing, try to get Game 2.”
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