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Thunder-Spurs: San Antonio goes deep into rotation, puts on Game 1 clinic

SAN ANTONIO 122, OKC 105 — With Scott Brooks forced to experiment in Serge Ibaka’s abscence, Gregg Popovich countered with some unconventional — though highly productive — lineups of his own.
by Anthony Slater Published: May 20, 2014

“He had a Hall of Fame night,” Brooks said.

But up and down the box score, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Spur who didn’t have at least a solid performance.

Battling a lingering hamstring injury, Tony Parker was steady, contributing 14 points and 12 assists while playing decent enough defense against Russell Westbrook. Manu Ginobili added 18 points on 12 shots off the bench. Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw were the only two Spurs to shoot below 50 percent, but each contributed in their own way.

Leonard was solid on defense throughout the night, limiting Durant’s clean looks at the basket and bothering the Thunder offense with a game-high three steals.

And Diaw was the trump card in the rotational chess match. He’s a big and physical body, but nimble enough to guard quicker players on the other end. So when the Thunder went small, Popovich stuck Diaw on Butler and exposed OKC’s defensive weakness.

In the middle of the fourth quarter, with the Thunder attempting a final run with three point guards, Durant and Butler on the floor, Diaw scored on two straight post-ups. He slid past Butler with a nifty low-block move, then forced a switch and bullied Reggie Jackson moments later.

“We can use that matchup to our advantage,” Parker said.

Two big buckets, two examples of some glaring Thunder issues as this series moves forward.

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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