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Thunder-Spurs Report Card: Defensive intensity earns OKC high marks

What a performance. The Thunder dominated most of the game and won by blowout for the second straight time. And the grades reflect such a showing.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 27, 2014


photo - Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant blocks the shot of San Antonio's Tony Parker during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant blocks the shot of San Antonio's Tony Parker during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Starting lineup: C. Jackson’s ankle injury limited the new lineup to just 31/2 minutes in the first half. The Thunder trailed 10-4 when Jackson was sidelined. But Jackson returned to start the second half; he didn’t play well, but the unit did. Scotty Brooks kept the starters in the first 8:13 of the third quarter, during which the Thunder outscored the Spurs 18-12.

Small lineup: B. Brooks went small-ball in the first quarter, and it produced a great run. The unit of Durant, Caron Butler, Adams, Westbrook and Lamb went on a 13-6 spree to give the Thunder the lead for good. Brooks went small for short stints the next two quarters, to less success. The small lineup matched the Spurs 4-4 in 2:42 of the second quarter and then was outscored 7-5 in 1:39 of the third quarter.

Killer instinct: D. With 4:25 left in the third quarter, the Thunder led 76-49, and Popovich had surrendered. The Spurs sported a lineup of Cory Joseph, Boris Diaw, Aron Baynes, Marco Belinelli and Matt Bonner. And the Thunder allowed that quintet to score on eight straight possessions and draw within 81-67. Popovich stayed with his scrubs, and the Thunder controlled the fourth quarter, but it came at a cost. Westbrook played 451/2 minutes. Durant played 41:12. Even the recuperating Ibaka played 34:54. Meanwhile, no Spur starter played as much as 26 minutes.

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 Oklahoman,...
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