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San Antonio vs Oklahoma City, Final Score: Westbrook propels Thunder to win over Spurs 95-91

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The Thunder closed out the fourth quarter strongly behind the indomitable will of Russell Westbrook to push the Spurs to the brink of elimination and take a 3-2 lead in the series.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs started this game slowly, but worked their way back into the game in the second and third quarter, but the superior will of Russell Westbrook and the Thunder was exerted again at the end of the fourth quarter, and the Thunder won 95-91, despite incredible efforts from Kawhi Leonard and a big bounce back game from Danny Green. Now the Spurs have their backs to the wall, they will need to win the next two games to advance to the conference finals. They will need to come up with another gritty effort in Oklahoma City like they did in game 3 in order to have a chance to pull out the series.  The Thunder will be looking to close things out on Thursday.

Game Flow:

The Spurs were logy to start the game and the Thunder rushed out to a 9-2 lead before the Spurs scored their second basket with about 7 minutes left in the first. Danny Green, who had a doughnut in the previous game, sank a three point shot and the Spurs were within two points. The Thunder's aggressiveness continued to be a problem for the Silver and Black as they turned the Spurs less than precise passes into steals and fast break points. Russell Westbrook started off hitting 3 of 4 shots to bring the Thunder to a 15-10 lead.  But mid-range shots from Patty Mills and David West brought the Spurs to within one point.  Then after a turnover, Boris Diaw hit a short hook shot to put the Spurs up by one. Dion Waiters got fouled on the return trip and hit a pair of free throws to put the Thunder ahead.

Durant hit a crazy banker to put the Thunder up by 3, and then a straight ahead triple to push the lead to 6. The Thunder had scored the last 7 points of the quarter and led 22-16.  Frankly, it could have been worse, the Spurs looked out of sorts from the beginning of the game, and they were lucky to be as close as they were. Zero free throws and no fast break points spoke to the lack of aggression by the good guys. Gregg Popovich had some advice for his team during the break.

The second quarter started with a flip shot from Durant to put the Thunder up by 8. But the Spurs answered with a Patty Mills two off an offensive rebound. Waiters, who had been a Spurs killer, picked up his third foul on an attempted steal with 9 and a half left, and Kawhi Leonard hit a sky hook to cut the lead to six. After a Westbrook offensive foul, the Spurs closed the gap with Kawhi taking over the game, taking the ball when he wanted and stuffing it through the hoop.  The Spurs trailed 26-24 with 8:25 left.

Ibaka hit a jumper, and then Durant got a steal and fast break that Leonard blocked cleanly, unfortunately, the refs saw it differently, and Durant hit one of 2 free throws. Kawhi continued to dominate the game with steals and rebounds, but to the dismay of Spurs fans, didn't quite make all of his shots, missing a three-pointer.  With 5:14 left Parker hit a layup to put the Spurs in the lead 32-31.

After a trade of baskets, Westbrook was left wide open in the corner and hit a three pointer, and then Ibaka got a similar look to put the Thunder up by three.  But Duncan got all the way to the basket and served up a satisfying dunk for the San Antonio fans with just under three minutes left in the half.

The Spurs finished the quarter strongly with a Danny Green three-point shot and went into the locker room up 48-43, outscoring the Thunder 32-21 in the quarter.

LaMarcus Aldridge hit a midrange jumper to open the second half scoring. The two teams went back and forth for a while but the Spurs maintained their lead and then expanded the lead to 9 on an Aldridge steal leading to a Parker fast break layup.  Ahh, fast breaks, I had forgotten about those. The Spurs were playing well, but they were getting some good bounces, when Kawhi bounced the ball off his foot, it went to Green who sunk a three pointer. Then Green hit another and the Spurs were up by 13 points at 62-49. The fouls continued to pile up, though, and the Thunder got into the bonus with over half the quarter left.

After a Kanter jumper cut the lead to 8, Aldridge got fouled by Kanter in the paint for an and-one,  On the next trip, David West slightly touched Steven Adams under the basket, which sent the 270 pound center flying through the air. West must be some kind of super hero! Adams missed both foul shots, but a West foul on the second miss sent Kanter to the line who hit one of two.  After a miss from the Spurs, Westbrook hit a three and the deficit was just six.

Dion Waiters came into the game late in the third, and did a good job moving the ball for the Thunder.  Randy Foye hit a three late and cut the score to 72-69.  The Thunder had closed out the third quarter on a 12-4 run, and after Sunday's fourth quarter, it was time for Spurs fans to be nervous about the future.

The Spurs continued their cold shooting to start the fourth quarter, but the defense was dialed in, and both teams had trouble scoring. Finally, LaMarcus got free under the basket for a layup assisted by Manu Ginobili, and the Spurs finally hit their first basket with about 10 minutes left. Green hit a three, but Westbrook answered with a long distance three point shot to beat the shot clock.  And then Durant hit a three point shot and the game was tied at 78.

After all of the preliminaries, the Spurs had just eight minutes and two seconds to save their season.  Going down three games to two headed into Oklahoma City was a frightening prospect, and becoming more conceivable all of the time.  Inconceivable, you say? I don't think that word means what you think it means.

The Thunder used second and third opportunities created by offensive rebounds to create more shots, but they weren't able to hit. Meanwhile, the Spurs were still cold, but were able to draw fouls on the Thunder bigs. After two Duncan free throws, the Spurs had a narrow 80-78 lead with just under half of the fourth quarter left to play.

Danny Green hit another three pointer, but Adams answered with a two and the Spurs lead was three. Kawhi and Adams traded baskets.  Durant fouled Kawhi on the next trip and he hit one of two to give the Spurs a four point lead. Leonard stole the ball on the next trip for a breakaway dunk.  But then Westbrook hit a long jumper and on the next play, the Spurs offense stagnated, and Tony Parker's shot fell short of the basket as the 24 second shot clock went off.  But play was allowed to continue, and Westbrook got ahead of the defense, and scored a layup to bring the Thunder within two points at 88-86. Kanter scored four points in a row for the Thunder and they were suddenly up by two. Parker hit a jumper to tie the game.  Durant got fouled and hit his shots and the Thunder were up 92-90.

Parker got fouled on a drive to the basket by Adams, and hit one of two shots.  Spurs down by one with just 42 seconds left. On the next possession, Green stole the ball from Kevin Durant which led to an open shot by Tony Parker from 20 feet.  But the shot missed, and the ball bounced out of bounds.  The Thunder had an inbounds with a one point lead and 9.3 seconds left.  I remember something similar happening earlier this week.

On the inbounds, Kawhi fouled Westbrook, but the refs allowed him to continue his drive to the basket, where he was fouled by LaMarcus Aldridge for a three point play.  The Spurs had 6.3 seconds left to make up a 4 point deficit.  Their shots missed and the clock expired.  Thunder win 95-91.

Thoughts:

  • The Spurs looked as passive as a possum in the first quarter.  Kawhi woke them up at the start of the second.
  • The early foul trouble for Dion Waiters was a plus for the Spurs. I wouldn't have thought that before game 4.
  • Tim Duncan looked better tonight that he did in game 4.  He was moving well and having an impact on defense and grabbing rebounds.  He's such a key part of the team, even if he's not having a very good series. He was still outmuscled by Steven Adams, but he held his own more often than not.
  • Westbrook had 6 turnovers in the first half. He pretty much gave up on passing the ball in the second half, and that turned out a lot better for his team.
  • The full length Baby Dame 'Droppin' Dimes' video is actually pretty good.
  • Danny Green had a decent bounce back game after he had an ohfer in game 4.
  • Westbrook is really good at drawing fouls. Apparently bowling into people at top speed is a good scoring strategy. *If you're Russell.
  • Kyle Anderson came into the game late in the third quarter and had a positive impact.  He's been good in this series whenever he's been on the floor. Except that he had a huge +/- deficit because the Thunder were shooting the lights out.
  • OKC has blown a million fourth quarter leads this season.  The Spurs have blown two of them in this series.

Music Break:

This song makes me think about Westbrook.  For some reason.

Final Words:

The Spurs play the Thunder again on Thursday in Oklahoma at 7:30 PM and it's going to be a close out game.  It's win or go home for the Spurs.  You've got to give credit to the Thunder.  They've played their hearts out this series, and been the more aggressive team.  The games have been razor close and there have been some questionable calls, but the Thunder earned their wins.  In order to reverse this trend and save the series, the Spurs are going to have to be the more aggressive team.