SAN ANTONIO — Homecourt advantage has never been quite so advantageous.
Five games into these Western Conference Finals, the home team has not only won every game but also won every time on home hardwood convincingly. Two Spurs blowouts in San Antonio to start the series were followed by two decisive Thunder victories in Oklahoma City.
So, Game 5 in San Antonio on Thursday night?
It definitely followed the script.
Spurs 117, Thunder 89.
“I think it’s all mental,” Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins said of the road team’s inability to win on the road in this series thus far. “It just takes great focus. Obviously, having the home crowd behind you helps, but I think it’s all mental.”
For the first time in this series, the Thunder traveled south of the Red River with Serge Ibaka. When last it made the trip, its best shot blocker stayed home rehabbing a strained calf.
He returned for the two games in Oklahoma City, of course, and made a world of difference, but Thursday night, he and the Thunder defense struggled. The Spurs scored more points in the first three quarters as they did in all of Game 4 and shot 51.3 percent from the floor.
Credit adjustments by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
He started three-point threat Matt Bonner in place of postman Tiago Splitter. It stretched the Thunder defense, and while Bonner scored no points, the lineup adjustment helped the Spurs get off to a good start. They scored 32 points and shot 57.9 percent in the first quarter.
That momentum carried over.
In the first half, the Spurs hit 61 percent of their shots from the field, including a whopping 57.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. They had eight threes as five players hit from outside.