Thunder-Spurs seems like a whole new series

Remember when this series seemed all but lost, OKC fans? The Thunder returns to San Antonio with the series tied at 2.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: June 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm •  Published: June 2, 2012

Remember when this series seemed all but lost, Thunder fans?

That was three days ago.

Seems like three years.

The idea that the Thunder could win these Western Conference Finals doesn't seem so out of the question now. Not with the momentum that the boys in blue have built. Not after a blowout Thursday night. Not after what happened Saturday night.

Thunder 109, Spurs 103.

“We are playing against a really talented team,” Spurs super sub Manu Ginobili said. “We earned ourselves the possibility of having home-court advantage, and hopefully, we'll use it.”

Hopefully?

Hope seemed like the last thing the Spurs needed when these Western Conference Finals swung to Oklahoma City. After the first two games in San Antonio, the Spurs were clearly superior. Better scheme. Better execution. Better ball team.

But on a night when the Thunder tied the series at two games apiece, the Spurs' superiority is gone. While the home team won in so in many of the old, familiar ways — Kevin Durant hitting huge baskets, Thabo Sefolosha playing great defense, Russell Westbrook causing havoc — it was the unexpected contributors who have turned this series on its ear.

Prime among them: Kendrick Perkins.

No doubt Serge Ibaka should get all kinds of love for his 26-point performance. Rare is the night a guy hits all 11 shots he takes in a pressure-packed playoff game.

But we've seen Ibaka's offensive prowess from time to time. The shot blocker has got that jumper from the baseline or the wing that is almost automatic from 16 or 18 feet.

But Perk? The Big Nasty hitting 7 of 9 shots? Gran Torino scoring the Thunder's first five points when no one else could find the range? The Scowl finishing with 15 points?

He didn't score that many points in the first three games of this series combined.

It was only one point off his season high of 16 points, scored in that Sunday night beatdown of the Heat back in March.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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