Spurs guard Tony Parker, who scored 42 against the Thunder back in February, again dazzled, this time with 34 points on 16-of-21 shooting to go with eight assists. His efforts captained a 27-assists night for the Spurs, who used that precise ball movement to get about anything they wanted, exactly when they wanted it.
San Antonio also made 11-of-26 3-pointers, burning the Thunder with the same sharp-shooting that the Spurs displayed during the regular season. Two nights earlier, the Thunder held the Spurs to 8-of-24 shooting from 3-point range and perhaps thought it had solved that part of the puzzle.
Only another problem popped up.
While the Thunder's big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden did what they needed to do, combining for 88 points on 30-of-54 shooting, the rest of the Thunder's players scored just 23 points on 7-of-34 shooting.
That was a huge difference in the game.
San Antonio, on the other hand, got an unexpected double-double out of rookie forward Kawhi Leonard, who what 18 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes. His performance complemented the Spurs' big three of Parker, Ginobili and Duncan, who combined for 65 points on 24-for-43 shooting.
“They were making shots,” Brooks said. “I mean, they were spraying them all over the floor and knocking them in.”
The Thunder then got desperate, resorting to “Hack-a-Splitter,” an intentional-fouling strategy against Spurs forward Tiago Splitter. It's a tactic designed to put a poor free throw shooter on the foul line and hope that he misses.
It's the universal sign that one team can't guard another.
So, again, we ask what on earth can the Thunder do?
“We have to play better,” Brooks said. “We have to do everything better. From guarding the pick-and-rolls, from closing out, to making the extra pass (and) setting good screens. It's a variety of things that we have to play better.
“When you're playing against the best team in basketball, you have to do a lot of things well to beat them. But we have enough in our locker room to do that. We just have to do it.”