The Oklahoma City Thunder shot a white-hot 56.4% (44-78) from the floor at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday night, led by Kevin Durant with a game high 36 points while his partner in the starting front-court Serge Ibaka, literally could not miss during his 41 minutes on the floor, going 11-11 from the field and 4-4 at the line as the Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs 109-103. The second straight victory for Oklahoma City, ties the series at 2-2, with the Thunder needing a victory at the AT&T Center in San Antonio to head to the NBA Finals.
The home team took the contest over during the second quarter and although the Spurs were able to get within two points after Manu Ginobili buried a 25-foot trey with 1:15 left in the third, that was the closest they would get, with San Antonio unable to bridge the gap. Tim Duncan was the top scorer for his squad with 21 points while rookie Kawhi Leonard added 17 points for the night.
One question that should be answered on Monday night will be if the Thunder got wins in their last two contests due to the fact that they were playing on their home-court; or has the accelerated pace of the Conference Finals started to take a toll on their older opponents? The Spurs had a strong offensive night themselves in this game, shooting 50% (41-82) but they never could get over the hump to take the upper hand after the second quarter. Monday night should be a good test of whether the schedule or the venue is the bigger factor.
The two opponents stood toe to toe during the first 12 minutes of play and slugged it out, ending the period with the score knotted at 26-26 after Thabo Sefolosha slammed the rock through the cylinder with 28 seconds left. The Spurs offense got stuck in neutral during the second period and the Thunder were happy to take advantage of their visitors misfortune. Durant drained a mid-range jumper with six seconds in the quarter and the home team entered the locker room at the half on top 55-43.
The Spurs would threaten in the third, cutting their deficit to 73-71 when Ginobili hit his trey late in the period. Durant would respond with knocking down a short jumper seconds later and the Thunder would stay ahead 75-71 at the end of the quarter. San Antonio would cut the lead to three points early in the fourth, but the Thunder soon sprinted ahead and their opponents never truly were a threat the rest of the game.
The two teams will be entering a three-game series with two of the contests in San Antonio, to determine which club will represent the West in the Finals later this month. They will lace them up in San Antonio on Monday night.