OKC Thunder: Spurs' Manu Ginobili is a ballplayer the Thunder must fear

The veteran virtually carried San Antonio in the fourth quarter of a Game 1 victory.
by Mike Sherman Published: May 27, 2012

SAN ANTONIO — A couple days ago, Kevin Durant wondered why so many questions leading up to the Thunder-Spurs series focused on how the Thunder would stop the Spurs, and not the other way around.

I wonder if he still wonders.

I wonder if Monday the Thunder will spend any more energy making sure everyone knows Oklahoma City respects but does not fear the San Antonio Spurs.

Because after Game 1, a healthy dose of both seems to be in order.

There should be utmost respect for the team that turned the fourth quarter in to a finishing school if Oklahoma City was paying attention. And there should be fear of Manu Ginobili.

The fourth quarter of San Antonio's 101-98 victory was Ginobili's; everyone else was just playing in it. If you don't fear what Ginobili can do — what he did — it might be tough to get serious about trying to stop it in Game 2. 

The Thunder did a decent job defending everyone else. The point guard duel between Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook didn't materialize, much to Westbrook's credit.

Parker's 42-point statement when they squared off a couple months ago and overall strong play vs. OKC apparently got through to Westbrook, who for three quarters looked like the defensive wiz Sam Presti drafted out of UCLA. Parker was 4 of 12 shooting until the fourth, and there were times when he looked more than a little bit unsure of himself.

Kendrick Perkins kept Tim Duncan sufficiently in check. You can live and win with Duncan's 6-of-15 shooting, especially with Perk batting foul trouble.

Oklahoma City cannot win — and the Spurs cannot lose — with Ginobili doing this thing, his thing.

Ginobili capped a 26-point performance with a near perfect fourth quarter of shooting (3 of 3 from the field, 5 of 5 from the line) and orchestration of the Spurs pick-and-roll magic.

He split defenders trying to ambush him at the point of a pick. He nailed step-back jumpers. He had the game on a string. And so much for the talk that he'd lost his 3-point touch in the postseason (29 percent going into Game 1). Ginobili was 3 of 5 from 3-point range Sunday night.

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by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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