Russell Westbrook got in Tony Parker's grill early and often

The game was not yet a minute old, and Westbrook had staked his claim. The Thunder-Spurs showdown was going to be his game.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 5, 2013

“Yeah, our team did a good job of defending the whole game,” Westbrook said. “Blocking shots, ready to go.”

Six Boomers blocked shots, led by three each from Durant, Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. The Spurs shot rather well when a Thunder hand wasn't deflecting the ball. But the Thunder blocked 13 shots in all, thus the Spurs made just 33 of 83, 39.8 percent.

“Energy was great,” Brooks said. “Our fans thought it was a playoff game.”

Seemed like one. The Spurs treated it like one. Parker might have been hobbled, but he still played 251/2 minutes. Duncan played 35:03, four more seconds than Westbrook, in what has to rank as a major upset. San Antonio was without Ginobili and another old warrior, Stephen Jackson, but that's what happens when your roster is aged.

But the Spurs are nothing if not resilient. They trailed by 20 in the second quarter but got within eight at halftime. They trailed by 19 in the third quarter but got within six going into the final period. They trailed by 14 with nine minutes but drew within 87-84 with 5:57 to go.

That's when the young legs kicked in. Westbrook twice in a row got to the basket and drew a foul — on a night when the whistles were blowing the Spurs' way; they had seven fouls total up to that point — and sank foul shots. Then the Thunder defense regained its bearings. The Spurs scored just two points the final 4:42, both on foul shots.

The Thunder ended the game the way it started the game, which meant the Thunder has a chance to enter the playoffs in two weeks as the West's No. 1 team.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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