With Serge Ibaka back from his strained calf, it was only a matter of time before another injury popped up in this trying Thunder season, which has felt like whack-a-mole from a health perspective. Recently appointed starting shooting guard Reggie Jackson went down with a sprained right ankle in the first quarter Tuesday night, asking out of the game and hobbling to the locker room.
He returned at the beginning of the second quarter and started the second half, jogging with a limp that seemed to limit him. But in the postgame locker room, he said he’d be good to go moving forward. And at practice Wednesday, coach Scott Brooks backed up that sentiment.
“I spoke with him,” Brooks said. “He's feeling pretty good. He will get treatment throughout the day and then tomorrow, but he's feeling pretty good today.”
Jackson is expected to start on Thursday.
With 7:30 left in the second quarter of Game 4, Spurs center Tiago Splitter went down in a heap, making it look like he was forcefully shoved by an Ibaka forearm. But upon replay, it became clear that Splitter severely exaggerated the contact. On Wednesday, the NBA agreed, fining Splitter $5,000 for violation the league’s anti-flopping rules.
WESTBROOK, DURANT DOMINATE
Russell Westbrook (41) and Kevin Durant (30) combined for 71 points in Game 4. That matches the third-highest combined total for the Thunder superstars in a playoff game.
Their highest-scoring collective playoff performance was Game 4 against Memphis in 2011, when they combined for 75 points in a triple-overtime victory. Next on the list was 72 points in Game 1 against Denver in 2011. Durant and Westbrook also combined for 71 points in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals against Miami, when Westbrook exploded for 43 points.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” Durant said of whether Tuesday night was their best combined playoff game. “We’ve played so many games together. But we were just so focused on bringing that energy for our teammates. We’re the leaders, we set the tone, and they follow us. Russell does a great job every single game of just playing with that fire and that force, and I just try to do the same things and have our teammates follow behind us. I don’t know about the best game we’ve ever played. I think we have another level we can go to.”
Kendrick Perkins had one of his best games of the playoffs, despite scoring just two points. Perkins and the Spurs’ Tim Duncan were on the court for 19:30 of the game. In those 191/2 minutes, Duncan had five points and four rebounds, on 2-of-6 shooting. Duncan spent 5:05 on the court against Adams and went 2-of-2 with four points during that time, with two rebounds.
Perkins had 10 rebounds, two blocked shots and a nifty assist to Westbrook for a layup.
The Thunder clearly has neutralized Duncan — and did so even before Ibaka’s return. In Game 2, Duncan had 12 rebounds but scored just 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. In the last three games, Duncan has made just 15 of 37 shots and averaged 13 points.
Duncan was having a renaissance playoffs. He averaged 17.3 points a game and shot 58 percent from the field against Dallas. He averaged 15.8 points a game and shot 53 percent from the field against Portland. But the Thunder is taking Duncan out of his game.
“They hit some tough shots, but I thought we kept touching them,” Perkins said. “We were challenging all their shots and keeping them out of the paint. Our shell was tight, and I thought we stuck with it. With San Antonio, you have to do it for 48 minutes.”
In two games in San Antonio, the Spurs’ Danny Green made 13 of 18 shots, including 11 of 15 on 3-pointers. He averaged 18.5 points a game. In two games in Oklahoma City, Green made four of 16 shots, including three of eight on 3-pointers. He averaged 5.5 points.
Is that home/road discrepancy typical for Green? In seven home games against Dallas and Portland, Green made 21 of 39 shots and averaged 8.3 points. In five road games against Dallas and Portland, Green made 15 of 33 shots and averaged 7.2 points. A little better at home. Green had three monster playoff games before the Thunder. Two at home (16 points on 5-of-7 shooting against Dallas, 22 points on 9-of-13 against Portland) and one on the road (17 points on 7-of-f-7 shooting at Dallas).
IBAKA’S IMPACT HUGE
San Antonio in two games with Ibaka sidelined: 117 points a game, 53.8 percent shooting, 66.7 shooting in the paint, 27 fast-break points total.
San Antonio in two games with Ibaka in the rotation: 94.5 points a game, 39.7 percent shooting, 46.3 shooting in the paint, three fast-break points total.
“They’re up in the passing lanes, they have starters and they have Serge in there, and their big guys back there who are protecting the rim, so they’re gambling a little more,” Duncan said. “They’ve turned that gambling into turnovers and took some fast-break points. I think they’re more comfortable with Serge and the rest of those big guys back there.”