Jun 4, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) drives against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha (right) during the first half in game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at the AT

Spurs Link-And-Roll - 6.5.12

Jonathan Abrams of Grantland: “ore than any other organization in the NBA, the Spurs are equipped for all that Jackson brings. They are prepared to benefit from the absolute teammate, the man who attends chapel before games and sang in his church choir as a youth. They tolerate the occasional, well-documented episodes, the infractions that appeared on police blotters and newspaper headlines. It is the good in Jackson, he is convinced, that leads to the occasional bad.”

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “We often put too fine a point on identifying the singular moment a team realized its full potential. That process isn’t linear. It usually takes years of growth, consolidation, spurts, slumps, revisitation and then, at last, more growth before the cycle repeats itself. So nothing definitively changed the Oklahoma City Thunder at the 5:17 mark of the fourth quarter when James Harden drained a 3-pointer after a quick push upcourt by Russell Westbrook, and was fouled by Manu Ginobili on the follow-through. It wasn’t the first nor would it be the last jumper in transition Harden makes as a member of the Thunder. The bucket stretched a nine-point lead back to 12, but it was also one of those rare snapshots that captures a different, deeper image of a team at the moment of its ascension.”

Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell: “His team reeling, James Harden found himself, ball in hands, against both the shot clock and formidable reach of Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard. With a quick series of dance steps from left-to-right-and-back, Harden created just enough separation from Leonard to unsheathe a dagger of a three-pointer. ‘The play was for Kevin [Durant] and the shot clock was going down, that is why I had to make a play,’ Harden said. ‘I think Kawhi Leonard was playing very good defense on me and I just had to make a shot. I just went back to my mechanics and the ball with confidence and it went in.’ Harden’s three-pointer to extend the Thunder’s lead to five with less than 30 seconds left was the stuff of legends. It was Derek Fisher and 0.4. It was Manu Ginobili fouling Dirk Nowitzki as he barreled towards the lane down three. It was Robert Horry doing any number of things that Robert Horry used to do. In short, it was the kind of improbable shot that comes to define championship runs. ‘Bottom line, every season we won the championship we’ve had situations like that,’ Ginobili said of Harden’s shot. ‘And every season we lost, we had those too.’”

Rembert Browne of Grantland: “The quarter-crew white sock, worn by your favorite rookie’s favorite rookie, Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs. The sock, brave enough to show itself outside of a high-top but still reserved enough to not take up much space on the leg, is the perennial sock length of the hustle player. The “all guts, no glory” player. The quiet double-double guy. It’s no wonder that this is Kawhi’s sock length of choice, because he has been doing just that these playoffs, really coming into his own as someone you want on the floor in pressure situations. When he got that questionable late-game inbounds strip, I looked down, saw his sock length, and screamed, “CLASSIC QUARTER CREW PLAY.” Because that’s exactly what it was.”

Michael A. De Leon of Project Spurs: “”I thought we spotted them 24 minutes,” San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Game 5. “I don’t think we competed very well in the first half and they competed for 48.” A few choice words were all it took for Popovich to sum up a disappointing home loss in what could’ve been the most important game in this Western Conference Finals series.”

Jeff Garcia of Project Spurs: “You got to like Duncan’s confidence despite the huge loss at home. It sends a loud message to the team to not hang their heads low and to get ready for the next game but it’s going to take a lot more than just confidence if the Spurs want to force a Game 7. First of all the coaching staff has to figure a way to get Tony Parker going. He was the reason the Spurs rattled off 20-wins in a row, had the best Western Conference regular season record, and the Spurs go as TP goes. He played like an MVP candidate for the regular season and for the first two playoff series but has dropped off in the last three games versus OKC. Also, the switch of Thabo Sefolosha on TP has disrupted Parker with his length and perimeter defense.”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express News: “Give the Thunder credit. Every time the Spurs pulled closer, every time there might have been a crack in another team, the Thunder flexed. And when James Harden stepped back with about 30 seconds left? These are the moments that win championships. But if Game 6 follows with something similar, the Spurs will have a sick feeling when they remember Monday. It wasn’t just that they lost, or that the Thunder kept responding. The Spurs were unrecognizable from the team that won 20 in a row.”

Andrew Kennedy of Thunderous Intentions: “The Thunder have been playing with their backs against the wall in this series ever since losing the first game. It was an unfamiliar place for this team but they have fought back and bought themselves a little bit of breathing room. In a sense, they have two chances to win one game. But winning at home seems so much more likely. But then doesn’t it also feel unlikely that the Thunder would beat the Spurs in four straight games essentially sweeping them?”

LatinD of Pounding the Rock: “Now we lost the game 5. If there is one thing I cannot predict, that is the reaction of the fans in general, and this blog in particular. Pounding the Rock is mercurial, yet populated with lots of fans full of irrational optimism. If I had to guess, I expect lots of venting tomorrow, but a strong dose of hope built up before gametime on Wednesday. But you know who doesn’t worry me? You know whose reaction I can predict with the accuracy of a half-crazed wizened seer living in a cave, of a mutant fusion of Nostradamus and the Oracle of Delphi, plus some random I Ching self-help book?”

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: “Slowly, surely, it seemed the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared destined to suffer the same fate it did in Game 1 of this Western Conference Finals. Thirteen … 10 … eight. Soon, the petrifying memory of the previous year’s trip to this round reared its head. The season was reaching its brink. Six … four … two. That’s when Russell Westbrook hit a jump shot that restored all faith that this game, and perhaps this year, would be different. The Thunder is now one win away from its first trip to the NBA Finals.”

Robert Mays of Grantland: “There’s only one way to describe how Tim Duncan looked as he sat on the Spurs bench late in last night’s fourth quarter. Leaning back in his chair, hands folded on the back of his head, opening his eyes wide as they could go, he was tired. He looked 36 years old, and after a third straight game of dealing with a roster full of 22-year-old cyborgs, he, like the rest of the Spurs, looked a bit overwhelmed.”

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “The Spurs emerged from a timeout with 15.8 seconds remaining in Game 5 on Monday, weary but not yet beaten, asking for Manu Ginobili to perform another miracle. The Argentine dynamo already had carried them, lifted them, cajoled them, made play after play on his way to a night out of 2005. All the Spurs were asking, with only control of the Western Conference finals at stake, was one more. Ginobili could not deliver, because the Oklahoma City Thunder would not let him. His potential game-tying 3-pointer, heavily defended and snuffed out, bounced off the iron and out of bounds with 4.9 seconds to go, sealing for the Thunder a 108-103 victory at the AT&T Center. “It wasn’t my best shot,” Ginobili said. “But I didn’t have options.” And now, neither do the Spurs.”

Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Outside of the 3-point shooting from Manu Ginobili (5-10) and Stephen Jackson (3-6), the Spurs finished 1-8 from behind the arc in Game 5. The catch-and-shoot 3 was believed to be a significant advantage for the Spurs entering this series, but the Thunder have done a good job running the Spurs shooters off the line. Jack seems like one of the few players willing to take a shot with a hand in his face. Most other Spurs are pumping faking and putting the ball on the floor when OKC players close out, usually with no positive results to show for it. Once the Spurs dribble off the line, the Thunder is too quick and too long defensively for the Spurs to get a good shot. They need to simply take the shots that are presented to them from the arc in Game 6.”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “Post-shower sweat was still trickling off Tim Duncan’s brow after the Spurs absorbed their third straight loss to the Thunder in the Western Conference finals, a debilitating 108-103 loss at the AT&T Center, but Duncan had a request that surprised everyone: Start Game 6 immediately, please.”

Aaron “Hirschof” Preine of Pounding the Rock: “However, in those moments of non-small ball, the Spurs need to get Blair out onto the floor. If spacing the floor with Bon-Bon in the traditional setup isn’t working, why not change directions and put another effective roll-man, passer, and rebounder in the lineup? Unlike some of the other teams with a taller frontcourt, the OKC bigs don’t seem to bother Blair. His stockiness allows him to bull out the leaner guys and his quickness and high IQ on the glass allows him to combat their length and athleticism. And while I have questioned in the past where his head is due to the playoff demotion, this could be Blair’s time to show that he can make an impact.”

MatthewTynan of Pounding the Rock: “It was inevitable just one week ago. The Spurs were easily on their way to an NBA Finals clash against the Miami Heat, and San Antonio would once again return to the championship glory that has evaded it for five years. The Silver and Black were operating like a machine, looking every bit as unstoppable as ever before, that is, until vulnerability suddenly hit. The seemingly invincible No. 1 seed was brought back down to a level of mortality as glaring and deafening as the silence that cloaked the AT&T Center at the final buzzer on Monday night, and the few orange-and-blue-clad Thunder fans’ cheers harshly echoed past the thousands of stunned faces slowly and begrudgingly making their way toward the arena exits.”

Royce Young of the Daily Thunder: “Amazingly as the playoffs have unfolded two of the Thunder’s biggest problem areas during the regular season, a lack of assists and a surplus of turnovers, have apparently been solved. The team is taking care of the basketball and sharing it too. Role players have stepped up, different ones most every night. Thabo with his 19 points and six assists one night. The Thunder bigs looking like the Big 3 the next. Daequan Cook coming off the bench where he’s been sitting the whole series to nail two 3-pointers and score eight points in the span of four minutes.”

Trevor Zickgraf of Project Spurs: “When he wasn’t in foul trouble, Tim Duncan looked great. 18 points and 12 rebounds is about what we should expect from Timmy, especially when he’s being defended most of the time by Kendrick Perkins, who is one of the best post defenders in the league. He showed especially in the fourth quarter that he really had no interest in going quietly in to the night, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter, including six points straight in one minute. As both Paul and Jeff Garcia noted last night, Duncan showed no signs after the game of thinking the series is over. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see another 18 and 12 performance, or better, out of Duncan in Game Six.”

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