OKC Thunder snaps San Antonio's 20-game winning streak with Game 3 victory
Kevin Durant scored 22 points, Thabo Sefolosha set playoff career-bests with 19 points and six steals, and the Oklahoma City Thunder snapped San Antonio's 20-game winning streak by beating the Spurs 102-82 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday night.
That answers that…and then some.
The Oklahoma City Thunder came home facing questions about how on earth it would defend the red-hot machine masquerading as the San Antonio Spurs, who, through the first two games of this Western Conference final, looked unstoppable, shredding the Thunder's defense so thoroughly they made it look easy. And then Game 3 started.
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When it did, the Thunder showed for the first time, and from the very start, that it had plenty of answers for the Spurs. The most significant is one that gives the Thunder the best chance to keep this series interesting — Oklahoma City can still dig in and beat the Spurs with shutdown defense.
That's what carried the Thunder to a 102-82 cakewalk over the Spurs on Thursday night, snapping San Antonio's mind-blowing 20-game winning streak.
The Thunder led by as many as 27 points and never trailed after taking a 29-27 lead with 10:11 remaining in the second period.
“They played really well,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They played like it was a closeout game, both offensively and defensively…They beat us good.”
Following two methodical Spurs victories in San Antonio, the Thunder strung together one of its own to narrow the series to 2-1 after holding the Spurs to a series-low 39.5 percent shooting.
San Antonio's 82 points were the Spurs' fewest since a 79-point dud in a Jan. 27 loss at Minnesota. Over their 20-game winning streak, the Spurs averaged 109.4 points. Thursday was just the third time the Spurs had scored less than 100 points over that same span.
“I thought we played great defense from the start,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Everybody was engaged. Everybody was in their stance and our hands were active. We contested shots. We rebounded the ball. Defensively, that was as well as you can play the best team in basketball. Everybody did it throughout every possession.”
While Brooks made the necessary adjustments, tinkering with both his rotations and defensive assignments, effort is what really kept the Thunder from falling into a virtually impossible 3-0 hole.
The Thunder played with energy unseen for 48 minutes in Games 1 and 2. Nearly every Spurs shooter had a hand in his face. Almost all Spurs pick-and-rolls were thwarted by a tenacious defender, if not two. San Antonio's rapid and precise ball movement was negated by Thunder players countering with quick feet and undying commitment to every possession.
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