May 27, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forwards Tim Duncan (21) and Stephen Jackson (3) react against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half in game one of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at the AT

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J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “It’s not that the Thunder’s loss hangs entirely on Harden. He can’t be blamed for the Thunder’s lack of ball movement or defensive coverage in the fourth quarter. It’s not Harden’s fault that Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha could barely top the number of field goals made by Tiago Splitter.”

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “This emphasis on speed didn’t come without a cost, and there were times when the Spurs’ lead foot worked to their detriment. San Antonio has the ability to find shots for itself in the half-court, so why come to a track meet against a quicker team without an invitation? It’s smart for the Spurs to challenge the Thunder’s defensive preparedness by attacking with an action five seconds into the shot clock, but to run yourself ragged and throw the ball around the gym and dribble into gridlock traffic for the sake of being early doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Manu Ginobili’s amazing fake on Kevin Durant in the waning minutes of Game 1.

Fran Blinebury of NBA.com: In the blink of an eye, the Spurs went from a waltz to a wallop, from slow dancing to slam dancing.
Tony Parker slashed into the lane, Tiago Splitter rolled like a bowling ball under the basket, Tim Duncan stormed, Manu Ginobili was Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson was, well, let him tell it. “I love nasty, especially on the court. Nasty is my name. Stephen Nasty Jackson, I like that. It feels good.”

Ric Bucher of ESPN.com (Insider): “That is the challenge the Thunder face with as many as three players — Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden — with the offensive skill and kill-shot temperament to win or lose the game with one flick of their wrist. For all the caterwauling and hyper-scrutiny of Durant and Westbrook’s relationship, the fact is they are back in the Western Conference finals for the second consecutive year and have found a way not only to coexist but make room for a third sniper, Harden.”

Gregg Popovich doesn’t want you to see him smile.

Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus (Insider): “The overall efficiency of offenses in the playoffs ha declined by another 2.5 points from the regular season, a typical trait of postseason basketball. However, the attacks of the Spurs and Thunder have gotten even better. Oklahoma City leads all teams in postseason points per possession, just ahead of the Spurs. If we convert those results to the same aforementioned scale, the Thunder have been 10.1 percent better than the typical playoff offense; the Spurs aren’t far behind at 9.7 percent. If these teams had put up those numbers during the regular season, we’d be talking about the two most efficient attacks of the 3-point era.”

ESPN Stats & Info: “San Antonio has now won its first nine games to start the postseason. Only two teams have a longer streak to start the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers won their first 11 games during the 1989 and 2001 playoffs. Both those teams made it to the NBA Finals, but only the 2001 edition won the title.”

James Harden’s last second 3-pointer probably one people money.

Paul Garcia of Project Spurs: ““I give them a hand,” said rookie Kawhi Leonard of the Thunder’s defense as it disrupted the Spurs’ play through the first three quarters. But then the fourth quarter came, and so came the closing ability of Manu Ginobili. “It just happened,” said Ginobili of his breakout 26-point game, “I don’t know how exactly because I haven’t scored like this all season long, but it happened and I am very happy about it.”

Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: “The whole question of rest versus rust has dogged the Spurs throughout the playoffs. They’ve had long breaks between series after first-round sweeps in the first two rounds. But in Sunday’s 101-98 victory over Oklahoma City, the Spurs dodged a bullet after an extremely slow start from a rusty, lethargic beginning. For the first three quarters, the Spurs didn’t appear like the league’s hottest team. They had 14 turnovers in the first half and went to the line for only seven foul shots through three quarters. But an impassioned reminder from Gregg Popovich before the start of the fourth quarter got them playing with a nasty edge.”

Scoop Jackson of ESPN.com: “A little over five minutes left in the game with the Spurs down by five to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers had been outworking the Spurs all game. Getting every 50/50 ball. During the timeout, Spurs Zenologist Gregg Popovich explained to his team that, basically, they were getting outhustled. In the middle of making his point to the team, he said, “I’m serious.” He didn’t yell it or raise his voice or place heavy emphasis on either word when he said it. He just … said it.”

NBA T-shirt Wars: San Antonio Spurs.

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: “The story of this game was the fourth quarter. The Thunder couldn’t get a stop and couldn’t make a shot. The Spurs, on the other hand, sizzled. San Antonio got just about whatever it wanted with relative ease to storm back to steal a victory from the jaws of defeat and salvage its home-court advantage. The Thunder entered the fourth quarter ahead by nine at 71-62. But the wheels fell off for OKC about as quick as they possibly could. You could sense it when Tiago Splitter got back-to-back layups in the first minute of the fourth. His scores came too easily, too quickly. With them, Splitter immediately swung the momentum to the Spurs’ side, and the game just snowballed for the Thunder from there.”

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “Manu Ginobili looked sharper Sunday than he had at any other point throughout the playoffs. And that was before he ever set foot on the floor at the AT&T Center. A few hours before tipoff of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Ginobili — whose sartorial style might best be described as slacker chic — strolled into the locker room wearing a dapper gray sport coat over his button-down dress shirt. It wasn’t until later that night, after he had Pied-Pipered a come-from-behind 101-98 victory over Oklahoma City, that Ginobili began to regret his choice of threads.”

Gregg Popovich: “I want some nasty!”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has spent most of the 11 years Tony Parker has been with the team beseeching him to leverage his speed and aggression. The key for Parker in the Spurs’ 101-98 victory in Game 1 of their Western Conference finals matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder was to slow down just a tad. Parker shouldered the blame for the Spurs’ 14 first-half turnovers — just four shy of their playoff high in the first eight postseason games — saying he tried to do too much too quickly. “It started with me,” he said. “I didn’t make good decisions; a little bit in a hurry. That comes with not playing for a week. I was a little bit going too fast, getting in trouble. I take responsibility for that.”

Matt Moore of CBS Sports: “The Spurs had rolled their way through the regular season, rolled their way through the first round, rolled their way through the second round series. They hadn’t faced a team worthy of them in nearly two months. They ran into a good team in Game 1 and the Thunder took it to them for three quarters. Then Popovich explained to his team. It’s not supposed to be easy. He implored them to “get nasty.”

Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: “Through three quarters, the Thunder looked all grown up. Looked capable of knocking off the Spurs, who hadn’t lost in 46 days. Looked capable of making the NBA Finals. Then suddenly, the Thunder looked scared. Dazed. Confused. Young. Awfully young. Most playoff games are won or lost in the fourth quarter, and Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals most certainly was Sunday night. Won by the team that’s been down this road in many a May. Lost by the team that’s still a big-stage novice, despite its rapid ascension.”

Royce Young of CBS Sports: “Wherever a big play is needed, it seems that someone finds it. With Durant having his way with rookie Kawhi Leonard, veteran Stephen Jackson took over that assignment to limit Durant to an 0-2 fourth quarter. Tiago Splitter made a couple of big buckets to start the fourth. With Tony Parker struggling, it was Manu Ginobili who snapped out of his postseason funk to carry the scoring burden with 26 points.”

Tags: NBA Playoffs 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Finals