Quite simply, the Thunder gave second and third effort throughout the night and gave the Spurs a message-sending blowout.
“They played smarter than we did, and I think they played harder than we did,” Popovich said.
Brooks said the biggest adjustment his team made was simply playing better.
“You're not going to beat this team by playing one-effort basketball,” Brooks said. “You're going to have to have two, three, four and even five. They make you do that because they pass the ball so well and spread the floor so well…You've got to have multiple efforts, and I thought we did that tonight throughout the game.” Brooks, though, deserves credit for calling for the proper changes.
He started defensive bulldog Thabo Sefolosha on Spurs point guard Tony Parker, which held the jitterbug in check. He stayed with Sefolosha for the entire first quarter and even stuck with him at the start of the second period because he had set the tone so well.
The changes led to a slew of positives.
Led by Sefolosha's game-high six, the Thunder registered 14 steals. That helped the Thunder force San Antonio into a series-high 21 turnovers, which led to 20 OKC points.
Brooks stuck with Perkins despite many calling for Perkins to sit more in this series. And Perkins came through for his coach, grabbing a game-high eight rebounds while blocking four shots. Perkins also helped limit Tim Duncan to 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting, which directly helped hold the Spurs to a series-low 24 points in the paint.
Brooks, however, reminded everyone that the series still is far from over.
“We've done nothing but won our home game, and we have a tough one Saturday night.”