Spurs Link-And-Roll – 6.4.12


Edg5 of Pounding the Rock: “I liked how Pop dealt with Bonner not shooting: he simply never brought him back after his short stint in the first quarter when he failed to take an open 3-pointer. Up until this game, I thought Bonner was being smart about his shot selection: he was not forcing shots but he was pulling the trigger when he was open. He failed to do that in this game and as a result he lost his minutes. When Collison (who is not a shot blocker but guards the pick and roll expertly and cuts off angles on passing lanes) is in, there’s no reason for Bonner to be out there. OKC decided after a couple of games that playing the Spurs the way most experts predicted would give them the best chance to win (playing the ball handlers straight up and staying home on shooters) was not the way to go and have since switched to packing the paint and daring shooters to fire away with a hand in their face; if our shooters (and I don’t mean just Bonner) don’t take those shots, the defense wins.”

greyberger of Pounding the Rock: “The Western Conference Finals resume tonight with a hyped and hyperbolic importance that is, for once, justified. This game will probably come to define the season for the Thunder and the Spurs, and if the Western champion turns out to be noticeably stronger than the Eastern champion it could define the 2012 season as well. The only NBA narrative anyone is talking about goes like this: the Spurs represent teamwork and distributed responsibility in the mold of the 2011 Mavericks, while the Thunder and Heat stand for star power and the older, more established way of interpreting and marketing the NBA. For Spurs fans tonight is the crest of a familiar wave of hope and dread, the first real dose of playoff anxiety since the 2008 run.”

Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express News: “So when Durant started slow in Saturday’s Game 4, and Westbrook and Harden both clanked through difficult shooting nights, it would have seemed to spell disaster for the Thunder’s NBA title hopes. Instead, the Thunder’s unheralded collection of role players came up with a monster collective effort that kept them afloat until Durant ignited their closing rush in a 109-103 triumph.”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express News: “There have been years when the Spurs didn’t win a title but might have been the best team. Arguments can be made for 1995, 2004 and 2006. But they also won one once when they might not have been the best. That was seven years ago, when they also lost a 2-0 lead in a series, when they faced a critical Game 5. It’s not something for the Spurs to care about tonight. Figuring out Surging Serge Ibaka should demand more attention. Still, 2005 shows what is possible. Such as? Beating the younger, taller, more athletic Thunder.”

John Hollinger of ESPN.com: “But the biggest reason to start Ginobili might also be the simplest: What the Spurs are doing right now isn’t working. They were supposed to have the big advantage in depth behind their three stars, but it’s tough to find supporting evidence for that right now. Duncan is a plus-6 and Parker is a plus-10 for the series, but the Spurs are getting rolled when those two are off the floor. Starting Ginobili, alas, is only part of the solution. The rest of it has to come from the frontcourt, where the Spurs remain searching for combinations that work.”

Andrew Kennedy of Thunderous Intentions: “Kevin Durant is prime to perform at a high level as well. He had been holding back from a potentially huge performance until the fourth quarter of Game 4 when he scored 18 points to help lead the Thunder to victory.Durant is not the whole team or was not solely responsible for the Game 4 win, but role players dim on the road while stars continue to shine. Durant may need to assume the larger role he took on at the end of Game 4 for the Thunder to take the lead in this series.”

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: “With his 18-point, fourth-quarter scoring barrage — which included 16 straight for his team during a five-minute stretch — Durant on Saturday enhanced his status as one of the league’s best closers. But what he did through three quarters, dishing out six of his game-high eight assists, is what represented the next step in his evolution as a clutch performer.”

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “For a brief moment there, the Spurs were the darlings of the professional basketball world, a breathtaking ball of butcher knives that had normally sober, measured pundits wondering if they might sweep their way to a fifth NBA title. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were the two best players in the Western Conference finals, capable of orchestrating any shot they wanted for the Spurs. Kevin Durant was a wallflower who disappeared in fourth quarters for Oklahoma City.”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “Just as believing the Spurs could sweep a team that has a transcendent talent like Kevin Durant was lunacy, so is the notion that a team that won 50 games in a 66-game regular season and 10 straight to start the playoffs has no hope of winning two out of the next three games, not to mention two of which will be on its home court. That’s what these conference finals have become, in case you hadn’t noticed. Since the Spurs last lost at home on April 11, most locals have had time to file their tax returns and cash the refund checks that arrived by snail mail. That’s a home-court advantage worth something.”

David Robinson: “At No. 1,” Robinson said. “His statistics will hold up against anybody’s. Two things go against him. One is being in a small market. Jeremy Lin plays great basketball for three weeks and he’s the king of the world. Timmy’s a monster and doesn’t get the publicity. And the other thing is his reluctance to seek the spotlight makes him even a greater person.”

John Rohde of The Oklahoman: “With 6:13 left in the third quarter of Game 4 on Saturday night, Thunder coach Scott Brooks called timeout and walked nearly to midcourt to greet three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant as he walked slowly toward the OKC bench. With the storm siren blaring over the loud speakers at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Brooks shouted into Durant’s left ear. “If you’ve got a shot, you’ve got to take it,” Brooks implored. “Keep taking it.” Durant pounded his chest once for self-motivation.”

Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: “It wasn’t complicated, Hubie said. Count the easy shots (seven) missed by Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. You know. The guys who couldn’t miss in Game 4. “Funny how a series goes. Serge and Perk looked overmatched and incompetent in missing seven Game 2 tap-ins. In the two losses in San Antonio, the two Thunder big men combined to make just six of 23 shots.”

Royce Young at CBS Sports: “The Spurs started a new streak Saturday. The wrong kind though. After winning 20 straight and going nearly 50 days without a loss the Spurs have now dropped consecutive games, letting the Thunder not only back into the series, but almost losing control of it. Yeah, they still have homecourt advantage in a best-of-three. Yeah, they’re veterans with championship experience and lots of leadership. Yeah, they have one of the top coaching minds ever. There’s good reason to think they’ll be fine. But if momentum were tangible, the Thunder would be holding it with both hands right now.”

Trevor Zickgraf of Project Spurs: “The first two games and second two games for the Thunder have looked radically different. In game one Durant, Harden, Westbrook combine for 63 points and scorching 88 in Game Two. That trio then scored 47 in the Game Three blowout and 54 in Game Four with 36 of those points coming from Durant. Game Four felt a lot like Games One and Two except for two things. First, Serge Ibaka couldn’t miss. He went 11-11 and six of those shots were mid-range jumpers. That’s a shot the Spurs are OK giving up despite his being a pretty good mid-range shooter. The second difference was Kevin Durant going bananas in the fourth quarter. The Spurs had done an incredible job of containing Durant in the fourth of both Games One and Two. OKC will surely go back to the screen that got Durant open at the elbow. Either we’ll see a lot more of Stephen Jackson getting physical with Durant or will see the Spurs’ defenders switch on the screen and have coach Gregg Popovich bring a quick double from several different defenders to slow down Durant.”