Then in the third quarter, Westbrook went on the offensive. He hit a three on an assist from Kevin Durant. Drove to the basket for a basket. Got to the free-throw line. Scored in transition. Assisted a Durant three. Got back to the free-throw line when he attacked the basket in transition. And finally, he hit that pull-up jumper that left Parker grasping at air and put the Thunder up with 5:08 left in the third quarter.
During that same stretch, Parker had no points and no assists. That put the brakes on the Spurs’ attack.
“And at the same time,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, “Russell attacked us.”
It changed the game.
But for the next nine-plus minutes, neither of the Thunder point guards scored. By the time Jackson ended that drought, the Spurs had a double-digit lead again, added by several defensive lapses on the perimeter.
“We have to figure out ways to keep them out of the paint and off the 3-point line,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They’re a very good team. They’re a team that can beat you in a lot of ways.
“In order to beat this team, you have to have all five guys on point, every possession, 24 seconds.”
That starts with the point guard. Defense. Offense. All of it flows through the point guard. That’s always the case, but when you’re missing a key cog like Ibaka, it’s even more important for Westbrook and Jackson to be at their best.
“Yeah,” Westbrook said, “but be smart. My job is to stay in attack mode but also find guys and try to find open shooters.”
Both Thunder point guards did that in spurts Monday night, but to beat these Spurs, they’re going to have to do it a lot more Wednesday night and beyond.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.