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Western Conference Finals: San Antonio Spurs looked their age in Game 3 loss to Thunder

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 26, 2014

/articleid/4851180/1/pictures/2684404">Photo - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) reaches for the ball in front of San Antonio's Matt Bonner (15) during Game 3 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, Sunday, May 25, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) reaches for the ball in front of San Antonio's Matt Bonner (15) during Game 3 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, Sunday, May 25, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

“Last night is more of who we are,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Monday after practice. “Our game plan has always been a defensive mindset, and that was the case last night.”

And that defense led to better offensive opportunities for the Thunder. Its fastbreak points weren’t any better than the first two games of the series, but the pace of the offense was faster and better. Working off misses instead of makes, the Thunder was able it to get into its offense quicker.

Advantage, Thunder.

“We got on our heels too much,” Duncan said, “and the result was what it was.”

The hard-to-guard Thunder was even harder to guard when the Spurs didn’t have a chance to set up and hunker down.

“We get a lot of open looks, and Kevin and Russ have a lot of lanes to drive and do what they do, what they’re great at,” Thunder veteran Caron Butler said. “We just have to continue to hang our hat on defense, rebound the ball and shrink the court.

“If we continue to do that, we’ll be fine.”

And the Spurs just might be in trouble.

Listen, I understand that the Spurs are supremely talented, extremely disciplined and remarkably coached. They could come back Tuesday night with a win, then go back to San Antonio with a chance to close out the series Thursday night on home hardwood.

But if Sunday night is any indication, the Thunder has found a way to take advantage of its young legs and exploit the Spurs’ aging ones. To force San Antonio into uncomfortable situations. To make the fellows in black and silver look their age.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

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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