Spurs Link-And-Roll – 6.3.12


J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “This demanded — no, commanded — your full attention. It was happening so fast, bucket after bucket, I had to stop to make sure I had this right. Let’s see, two, four, six, nine …13 consecutive points for the Thunder from Durant. Whoops, missed a free throw in there. Fourteen. Man, there’s another jumper. Splash. Sixteen consecutive points. And they came in the fourth quarter, when it matters most, when the San Antonio Spurs were whittling a Thunder lead down to four points, intent on snatching this game and taking control of the Western Conference finals.”

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “The Spurs were helpless. They tried sending double-teams when forced to switch Parker onto Durant at the elbow. When figuring out if — or precisely when — to help Parker on Durant proved to be too advanced of a decision for Leonard to make possession-by-possession, Gregg Popovich reshuffled the deck. He assigned Jackson to Durant and Ginobili to Westbrook. Didn’t matter.”

Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: “Remember when this series seemed all but lost, Thunder fans? That was three days ago. Seems like three years. The idea that the Thunder could win these Western Conference Finals doesn’t seem so out of the question now. Not with the momentum that the boys in blue have built. Not after a blowout Thursday night. Not after what happened Saturday night.”

Bradford Doolittle at ESPN.com (Insider): “You can’t win championships without a championship foundation, and Duncan has provided that for the Spurs for 15 years now. He may be the most consistent player of all time, with last year’s PER of 21.9 being his career-worst. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has more seasons (17) with a PER of 21 or better. And even those numbers don’t do Duncan justice because they don’t fully encapsulate his year-in, year-out brilliance on the defensive end. When you’re talking about sustained excellence, almost no one in league history has done it as well, for as long, as the implacable Duncan.”

Our very own Joe Bendiez explained how it felt to be a Spurs fan living in Oklahoma City.

Edg5 of Pounding the Rock: “That being said, no amount of spacing can make up for his playoff deficiencies if Bonner isn’t shooting and hitting from 3. OKC is doing a fantastic job of closing out quickly before Bonner can let it fly, and that is forcing Bonner to put the ball on the floor, which rarely ends well. In the post-season, they need to keep moving after the original kick-out, anticipating that the defense might get to Bonner. When Matt pump-fakes and drives, there needs to be player movement to take advantage of the scrambling defense and the Spurs don’t seem to be doing that — partially because Matty isn’t the best passer when he’s on the move.”

Jeff Garcia of Project Spurs: “But what if they could have played together? How would two of the greatest power forwards ever co-exsit? Well according to “The Mailman,” he would have loved to have had Duncan as a teammate and playing with each other would have been simple despite the two playing the same position because he says TD has always been a center.”

Paul Garcia of Project Spurs: “The fourth quarter became a boxing match as the Spurs and Thunder threw punches at each other early. Boris Diaw (12 points) got the lead down to three points with a three pointer early, but then Harden would score five consecutive points to put the Thunder back up by eight points. Almost midway through the fourth, the Spurs used a 6-2 run to cut the Thunder lead to four points (84-82), it would be the closest they got the rest of the night. From there, it became Durant time. Durant and the Thunder executed perfectly down the stretch by switching Durant onto Parker and Manu Ginobili (12 points) in isolation, and forcing the smaller guards to defend him. Durant scored 16-consectuive points for the Thunder and the Thunder’s lead eventually grew back to 10 points.”

Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express News: “It might have been a surprise to the Spurs that Oklahoma City was running offensive plays to Serge Ibaka at times Saturday night. The lanky Ibaka was supposed to be in the lineup mainly for his defensive skills. Limited offensive skills have dogged him in his NBA career. But Ibaka answered his critics Saturday night with a career game when his team most needed it.”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express News: “Kevin Durant stepped up on the podium after the game and acted like a man who owned the stage. “Want to get a picture of our clothes?” he asked, making fun of those who keep talking about today’s NBA postgame fashion. For the record: Durant wore a stylish gray T-shirt and light pink pants. Then he grabbed the microphone the way he grabbed the basketball in the fourth quarter Saturday night. He was composed, and he made sense, and he acted like someone coming into his own at the age of 23. Beware, San Antonio.”

Oklahoma City scored 59 points off cuts, isolations and spot-ups in Game 4.

John Hollinger of ESPN.com: “Don’t get me wrong, Durant was amazing — after the Spurs cut a 15-point Thunder lead to four midway through the fourth, he scored 16 straight Thunder points to put the game away. More amazingly, he only needed nine trips to do it. The part we haven’t seen before was the prelude: Durant taking his teammates along for the ride and turning the Thunder’s secondary players into huge offensive weapons. This is a potentially huge development for the OKC side. As good as they’ve been as a three-man offense by riding the prodigious talents of Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, their top-heaviness gave defenses an out — one exploited by Dallas, for example, in last season’s conference finals. Even playing that way, they were the league’s second-best offense this season, but if they move the ball the way they did on Saturday, they’re basically unguardable.”

Conrad Kaczmarek of Hardwood Paroxysm: “The Spurs have a remarkable offensive system built on their pinpoint ball movement. Each and every one of Popovich’s players is a willing (and competent) passer. Tony Parker has played like a superstar all season long. Tim Duncan looks rejuvenated. The Spurs are a fantastic team with a fantastic coach and some fantastic players. If I were describing the Thunder, you’d hear (see?) me say (type?) very similar words. The ultimate decider in this series will be the guys who aren’t typically described as “fantastic” — guys like Tiago Splitter and Nick Collison. Both teams are planning and scheming to stop one another’s star players. As you read this, Coach Pop is probably desperately trying to figure out how to stop Kevin Durant. Scotty Brooks is wondering if it’s just a matter of time until Tony Parker finds a crack in Sefolosha’s defense.”

Andrew Kennedy of Thunderous Intentions: “As we’ve seen in this series, playing on your home floor is a big deal. While the Thunder seem to have changed their style effectively to give them the advantage in this series, the Spurs have a chance to do the same as the series shifts back to San Antonio for Game 5 Monday night. Role players always play better at home and that’s why Durant closing out the game in such a dominant fashion is so important for the Thunder. He hadn’t really had it going in this series and no on the heels of a big game, might carry that over to the road and really give the Thunder a great shot to win Game 5.”

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: “On Saturday, Popovich and the Spurs saw how much of a headache the Thunder can be when Ibaka has a hot hand at the other end. Ibaka scored a playoff career-high 26 points to help the Thunder even the Western Conference Finals at two games apiece with a 109-103 win in Game 4 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Ibaka finished 11-for-11 from the floor. The NBA record for the most shots made without a miss in a playoff game is 12-for-12, set by Larry McNeill in 1975. Scott Wedman is the only other player in NBA history to go 11-for-11. He did it in 1985.”

Video: Spurs vs. Thunder postgame interviews.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “For the most part, the Spurs had weathered the greatest game of Serge Ibaka’s life. They had survived one of Kendrick Perkins’ better nights since Boston, if not Beaumont. They had even learned to live with the occasional basket from Nick Collison. It took until the fourth quarter Saturday, with Game 4 and the entire complexion of the Western Conference finals on the line, for Oklahoma City to pull out its secret weapon. Kevin Durant. Remember him?”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “Ibaka helped disrupt the Spurs’ offense in Game 3 by switching on Manu Ginobili on pick-and-roll plays. In Game 4, he was disruptive at both ends, especially in the first half. A perfect 6-for-6 from the floor in the half, he scored 14 of his playoff career-high 26 points as the Thunder weathered an early Spurs thrust and re-established command by halftime.”

John Rohde of The Oklahoman: “The Thunder handily won Game 3, just like the Lakers, to snap the Spur’s impressive run. OKC’s 109-103 victory in Game 4 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday night has tied the series at 2 and suddenly put the skids on San Antonio’s anticipated waltz to this year’s NBA title.”

Grading the San Antonio Spurs’ performances in Game 4.

silverandblack_davis of Pounding the Rock: “Sometimes, when you’re in a dream state, the waking stage does not pull you immediately into complete consciousness, back to the land of the living. Rather, the sight looks cloudy, eyes glassy like a boxer who just received the brunt of a thudding lucky punch. It seems that the only recourse by then is to go back to sleep, to try and go back to the dream. And then you realize you’re now fully awake and wondering what in Kevin Durant’s name happened.”

Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: “Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals was shaping up as one of Kevin Durant’s favorite games. All his overlooked pals, the ones he wangles into photo shoots and takes on trips and likes to credit for Thunder success, were having the game of their lives. Then Durant busted the party by having the game of his life. Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals went from one of Durant’s favorite games to one of his best. He took over the fourth quarter with 18 of his 36 points, and the Thunder beat the Spurs 109-103 Saturday night to even the series 2-2.”

Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Holy Serge Ibaka. I’m so thankful Manu Ginobili understands regression to the mean. Otherwise, the entire Spurs lockerroom might be discouraged by his 11-11 outing. Hopefully, Ibaka’s performance will trick him into believing he can do that every night. (Historical footnote: the Spurs, Thunder, and Cavs (Lindsey, Presti, and Ferry, I believe) once worked out Serge Ibaka in a private (Spurs alumni) session at Treviso. It was an odd draft for the Spurs. Presti chose Ibaka two picks before the Spurs, and then Kevin Pritchard traded up to grab Nico Batum one pick ahead of San Antonio. The Spurs picked Hill, and later traded him for Kawhi Leonard, Erazem Lorbek, Davis Bertans, and cap relief. I’m still not sure what to make of that draft. The Spurs would have won either way, however.)”

Royce Young of the Daily Thunder: “I’m just going to type this for the next 1,400 words: Kevin Durant. I think that should summarize pretty much everything you need to know, or really, want to know. I’ve already heard and seen some saying this was the game KD took The Leap but that’s already happened. He’s leaped. He’s special. Incredible. A gift. Insane. Ridiculous. On and on, you name it, KD is it.”