Thunder wallop Spurs 102-82, pull within 2-1By Jeff Latzke
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 22 points and Thabo Sefolosha set playoff career-bests with 19 points and six steals as the Oklahoma City Thunder ended San Antonio’s 20-game winning streak by beating the Spurs 102-82 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Thursday.
Oklahoma City closed its series deficit to 2-1 and will host Game 4 on Saturday night.
Sefolosha threw a wrench in the Spurs’ well-oiled offense at the start, getting four steals in the first 3 minutes. The Spurs ended up committing a postseason-worst 21 turnovers and scoring their fewest points all season.
Tony Parker and Stephen Jackson led the Spurs with 16 points apiece. Tim Duncan had 11 points on 5-for-15 shooting, taking 11 of San Antonio’s first 25 shots as the offense went through the All-Star center instead of Parker.
San Antonio had been averaging 109.4 points during its month-and-a-half winning streak and had been held to double digits only twice.
The Spurs, who already set an NBA record for the longest winning streak carried over from the regular season into the playoffs, were trying to match the league mark for most wins to start the postseason. The Lakers won 11 straight to start the 1989 and 2001 playoffs, getting swept in the NBA finals the first time and winning it all the second.
The Spurs’ last loss was to the Lakers at home on April 11.
Parker and Duncan didn’t play in the final 15 minutes, and coach Gregg Popovich pulled the plug after another series of three straight turnovers allowed the deficit to reach 23 points early in the fourth quarter.
Sefolosha had a right-handed dunk off a lob pass from Russell Westbrook, who followed with his own two-handed jam on an alley-hoop pass and Sefolosha followed with a reverse layup on another turnover-fuelled fast-break chance to push the lead to 86-63 with 9:48 left.
The Thunder put together another 9-0 run coinciding with Manu Ginobili coming out of the game, and featuring Serge Ibaka sticking his tongue out after nailing a jumper from the top of the key. Coach Scott Brooks soon followed suit and pulled his own front-line players with the game well in hand.