But Duncan wasn’t the only veteran looking youthful. Derek Fisher, in his 17th NBA season, scored 11 points in the first half and nailed three 3-pointers. His scoring helped keep the Thunder in the game.
The Thunder gave up 67 points in the first half but still only trailed by eight points at halftime.
The teams played to a near draw in the third quarter, but then the Spurs turned it on in the fourth quarter, exploiting the Thunder’s small lineup. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili got to the hoop. Boris Diaw took advantage of smaller defenders. And the Thunder had few options to stop them.
“Obviously, it makes a huge difference when Ibaka’s not there,” said Parker, who finished with a double-double, 14 points and 12 assists. “He’s one of the best defenders in the NBA.”
All is not lost for the Thunder, of course. Monday night was only the first game of a best-of-7 series.
Game 2 will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday in San Antonio.
But the Thunder will still be without Ibaka. He is expected to miss the rest of the playoffs because of his injury, and according to Brooks, no miraculous recovery is expected.
“Serge is out,” Brooks said. “He’s not coming back.”