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Spurs-Thunder: Role players turn tide toward OKC

While San Antonio's bench players were thought to be the better unit, the Thunder's reserves have stepped up to put OKC on the brink of a trip to the NBA Finals.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 5, 2012

“It's sort of reversed when I look at the film now. You can see us try to do some things on our own; too many people doing it on their own out of good intent, but it leads to contested shots, leads to turnovers, that kind of thing. You see Oklahoma City passing the ball and playing like we did in the first two games.”

Bonner, who has a history of burning the Thunder from 3-point range, has been a non-factor in this series. He's scored a mere four points on 1-for-9 shooting. Rookie Kawhi Leonard has been up and down for San Antonio, leaving Stephen Jackson — averaging 9.6 points on 60.7 percent shooting — as the only consistent performer of the Spurs' role players.

“(Manu) Ginobili's been fantastic two games, (Tony) Parker's had one good game and Duncan had a couple of good games, but nobody else has shown up,” Barkley said. “Stephen Jackson's been all right. But those other guys are not playing well and they are not going to go to Oklahoma City and play well.”

Barkley pointed to Daequan Cook's eight-point spurt in the second quarter of Game 5 as evidence that the Thunder has too many weapons for San Antonio.

“We keep saying somebody on the Spurs got to step up,” Barkley said. “Tonight, a guy who (hadn't) played for Oklahoma City, Daequan Cook, comes in and goes crazy. He hadn't even played. The guys on the Spurs, they got a home game and they did not show up. (The Thunder) got a guy who didn't even play last game and he's shooting 3s like he's been playing 45 minutes a night. The Spurs don't have enough guys playing well. That's the bottom line.”

Individually, Green, Neal, Bonner and Splitter are averaging their lowest point total in any round this season. The Thunder, on the other hand, has benefited from Collison, Ibaka, Perkins and Sefolosha all averaging the most points that they've produced in any round this postseason.

It's an unexpected reality that has put the Spurs on the ropes and the Thunder on the verge of conference supremacy.

San Antonio's only shot at extending this series now rests in its ability to reverse that trend and get quality performances from its role players on the road.

“I definitely believe,” said Jackson. “You know me, I'm not submitting to nothing. We're going to go win this game. We have to. If they can do it, we can do it. I give them their props. They came in and did what they were supposed to do. They're a great young team, but we got to do the same thing. I'm not counting us out.”