Spurs Link-And-Roll – 6.1.12


Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “Sefolosha isn’t the offensive equal of any of the marquee names on the Oklahoma City roster, and he’s probably not a plus offensive player in the NBA. But does Oklahoma City strike you as a team that needs secondary offensive players to eat up possessions that belong to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden? If ever a team had the capacity to absorb the presence of a non shot-creating defender, the Thunder are it. Go ahead and cash in!”

Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: “On a night when the boys in blue had to find a way to win to extend their season much beyond the weekend, they not only beat the Spurs but also changed the complexion of this series. They did it with defense. They did it with execution. But most of all, they did it with nasty.”

Jeff Garcia of Project Spurs: “It’s hard to picture Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker not in a San Antonio Spurs uniform. They have poured blood, sweat and tears into making the franchise into a perennial championship team and have helped bring three NBA titles to the Alamo City. But apparently last season, both players were available to any team for the right deal.”

Paul Garcia of Project Spurs: “The San Antonio Spurs had seemed to be immortal since April 11, the last time they had lost a game. But the Thunder used defense to stop the league’s most powerful scoring team on Thursday, as the Spurs now lead the series 2-1.”

Tim Duncan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the playoff blocks list with his 477th rejection.

Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express News: “Thabo Sefolosha’s game with the Oklahoma City Thunder usually consists of floor burns and skinned knees. It was a typical Sefolosha game Thursday night, much to the dismay of the Spurs. But the lanky native of Switzerland added a surprising offensive twist, torching the Spurs for a career playoff-high 19 points. Most amazingly, in an offense that is usually dominated by shooters such as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Sefolosha attempted 16 shots in the Thunder’s 102-82 Game 3 victory.”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: The Thunder plugged into energy, desperation, and a man named Thabo. James Harden stared at Tiago Splitter, and the Spurs stared at the floor. About the time Patty Mills checked in, the winning streak looked so wobbly, it needed one of Tim Duncan’s knee braces for support. The flow of energy is sometimes mysterious in the NBA, but sometimes it is predictable, too. And while Thursday it was the Thunder’s turn, the Spurs got what they wanted from their first loss in 50 days. Getting embarrassed can be a good thing.”

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated: “It took 50 days, 20 games and 10 different opponents. It took the highest scorer in the NBA, the loudest crowd and the best sixth man. It took a poised point guard, a proven defensive stopper and an inspired front line. But the Oklahoma City Thunder did what no one has been able to do since Tax Day. They beat the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder didn’t just snap the streak, they sawed it in pieces, treating San Antonio the way the Spurs have been treating everybody else for the past two months.”

Andrew Kennedy of Thunderous Intentions: The Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t going to get swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. You knew they’d be better at home and they were Thursday night in Game 3 as they impressively won 102-82. The Spurs looked unbeatable in the first two games which lengthened their winning streak to 20 games in the process. It would be understandable for them to lose a game to the Thunder who are an extremely talented team.”

Spurs vs. Thunder Game 3 postgame interviews.

Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “But the Spurs better find their offensive groove again, because we have zero evidence they can stop Oklahoma City’s offense. The Thunder are lighting up the Spurs to the tune of 108.6 points per 100 possessions in three games, according to NBA.com, a number that would have been neck-and-neck with San Antonio’s league-leading regular-season mark. The Thunder performed nearly this well against the Spurs’ defense in three regular-season meetings, and they have managed to get to the free-throw line at a very good rate against the foul-averse Spurs in the six games combined.”

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: “The Oklahoma City Thunder came home facing questions about how on earth it would defend the red-hot machine masquerading as the San Antonio Spurs, who, through the first two games of this Western Conference final, looked unstoppable, shredding the Thunder’s defense so thoroughly they made it look easy. And then Game 3 started.When it did, the Thunder showed for the first time, and from the very start, that it had plenty of answers for the Spurs. The most significant is one that gives the Thunder the best chance to keep this series interesting — Oklahoma City can still dig in and beat the Spurs with shutdown defense.”

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “Behind 22 points from Kevin Durant and a breakout game from unheralded Swiss guard Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City did what no other team could in the previous 50 days, pummeling the Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena and restoring life to the series. The victory narrowed the Thunder’s gap in the series to 2-1 and halted a Spurs winning streak that had matched the third-longest in NBA history at 20 games. It marked the Spurs’ first defeat since April 11 at home against the Los Angeles Lakers, a game they lost by 14 points before commencing their scorched-earth campaign across the NBA.”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “Forget what Sefolosha did offensively. He is on the floor for his defense, and what he did in Game 3 to disrupt the Spurs’ pick-and-roll had major impact. Switched to Tony Parker to start the game, Sefolosha had four steals in the first period alone, disrupting the Spurs’ offense so thoroughly, they went more than three minutes before getting on the scoreboard. The fact he made 4 of 10 on 3-point shots and scored 19 points was a huge bonus for the Thunder.”

50 days and 20 wins later, Thunder roll San Antonio.

Steve Perrin of SB Nation: “The Oklahoma City Thunder did something that no other NBA team had done in over seven weeks: they beat the San Antonio Spurs. And they didn’t just beat the Spurs — they thrashed them, maintaining a double-digit lead the entire second half, building the advantage as high as 27 and turning the fourth quarter into extended garbage time. The Thunder win snapped a 20-game San Antonio winning streak, handing the Spurs their first loss in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, and it left this Western Conference Final series at at a 2-1 San Antonio lead.”

Aaron “Hischof” Preine of Pounding the Rock: “I made light fun of Coach Brooks pre-game talk about “play better” and how it seemed painfully obvious and dry. But it seems his young team took it to heart and would accept nothing less than a vicious, unadulterated victory. For the first time in what feels like forever, the San Antonio Spurs looked shell shocked on the court. The Oklahoma City Thunder played a great game, some of their best basketball of the post-season, and we all knew it was coming. So did the Spurs. When facing the possibility of a 0-3 death sentence, most playoff teams will fire every cannon they have in the arsenal. Sometimes the effort just isn’t good enough (Clippers) but sometimes, as it did last night, it just levels the competition to the ground.”

John Rohde of The Oklahoman: “The Spurs hadn’t lost since April 11, had lost only twice in 33 games since March 21, and now all they have to show for it is a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals. San Antonio’s invincibility began to disappear in the second quarter, when OKC took the lead for good at the 10:11 mark and led by as many as 27.”

Oklahoma City solved the Spurs’ puzzle.

Fred Silva of Pounding the Rock: “My initial reaction to the game was not a pleasant one. I felt that the officials influenced it to such a degree that the Spurs did not stand a chance. I thought the Thunder got away with fouls that allowed them to separate themselves from the Spurs early in the game. Without them, their runs would not have created those insurmountable leads. There were those two bogus offensive fouls called on Tiago that robbed the Spurs of two possessions. There were many touch fouls that were called on the Spurs that either saved a Thunder possession or gave them free throws. There were also many plays in which the Spurs endured excessive contact yet did not receive the call. I estimated the officials’ first half impact at a negative 14 points for the Spurs. While all this was not completely imagined, it’s quite possible that I’m one of the most biased humans on the planet. And so, objectively, I’ll admit that the officials were not the sole reason the Spurs lost 82 to 102 in OKC.”

Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: “Scotty Brooks assigned Thabo Sefolosha to guard Tony Parker. It was neither a move of genius nor desperation. Just a move of common sense by Foreman Scotty. If you’re going to get beat, get beat with your best. Thabo is the Thunder’s best defender, and all hands on deck are needed against this San Antonio offense. The Thunder did not get beat. Thabo played the game of his life, Parker fell gently back to Earth and the Thunder turned Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals into a Swiss Ease. The Thunder rolled the Spurs 102-82 Thursday night and now this is a series again.”

Royce Young of the Daily Thunder: “It was really the only way the Thunder could probably resurrect themselves in this series. When you’re playing a team that’s seemingly invincible like the Spurs, blowing them out is the best way to go. Especially when you’re one loss away from seeing your season basically die. Avoiding crucial halfcourt possessions trying to stop Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan was very wise.”