TNT analyst Steve Kerr called it a “changing of the guard.” The Oklahoma City Thunder's biggest win in the four-year history of the franchise brought a flood of compliments from Kerr and the other TNT announcers.
“It just feels like Oklahoma City senses it,” Kerr said early in the fourth quarter after the Thunder had built a 10-point lead. “They are ready to break through. It's like a changing of the guard right before our eyes.”
Said TNT analyst Reggie Miller, “We've seen a team grow up in front of our eyes and mature.”
The Thunder had to withstand a furious rally by the Spurs but pulled out the victory aided by James Harden's miraculous 3-point shot that Kerr called “maybe the shot of the year for Oklahoma City.” Harden drained a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 106-101 just before the shot clock expired.
“A little shimmy, a pullup jumper for a three and Harden just sucked the life out of the whole building,” Kerr said.
On the postgame show, Shaquille O'Neal said he is expecting a louder than normal Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night when the Thunder can clinch a berth in the NBA Finals for the first time. “I'm going to steal a quote from Chuck, Wednesday in Oklahoma City that place is going to be rocking.”
“On fire,” Charles Barkley added.
Barkley, who had picked the Thunder to win the game, said the visitors outplayed the Spurs. “My biggest concerns have been Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and they finally stepped up. What you saw tonight is Oklahoma City is a better team. They are just too young for the Spurs.”
O'Neal added: “Oklahoma City has passed all the final tests. They are not a young team anymore. They have to understand that we've won the game, but we do not want to celebrate.”
Barkley said he didn't like Manu Ginobili taking a 3-pointer on the Spurs' possession in the final 15 seconds. “That's a tough shot. I thought they should have gone for a two.”
He also criticized Tim Duncan's play despite his 18-point, 12-rebound performance in Game 5. “Unfortunately, the greatest power forward ever is struggling. Father Time is undefeated.”
*In possibly the worst coach interview in NBA history, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had just four words for TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager after the third quarter when his team trailed 81-72. Asked what led to his team's turnaround in the third quarter, he said, “We competed.” Asked how he planned to use Ginobili in the fourth quarter, he said, “Same way.”
*On the postgame show, TNT had technical problems and suddenly went to commercial.
*In the fourth quarter Miller questioned why Kevin Durant didn't have the ball more down the stretch. “You got to put the ball in the best player's hands.”
*At halftime, Barkley criticized Popovich for starting Ginobili in place of Danny Green. “They were totally out of whack offensively.” However, Ginobili finished with a team-high 34 points.
*Barkley ripped Kendrick Perkins for getting a technical on a foul call on the Spurs. “Dude, you get the call you wanted and you're still arguing with the referee.”