For the first time since April 11th, when they dropped a 98-84 home contest to the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs have lost a game.
On Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, the host Oklahoma City Thunder downed the Spurs, 102-82, and now trail two games to one in the best-of-seven series.
After an even first quarter, where San Antonio scored 24 points to the Thunder’s 22, Oklahoma City turned it up in the second, outscoring the Spurs 32-17 and taking a 54-41 lead at the half.
Sixth Man of the Year James Harden shined during the second quarter, scoring nine straight points over a 2:13 span early in the period to help the Thunder to a 38-30 lead. Kevin Durant took over late in the quarter, scoring eight consecutive points extending the Oklahoma City lead to 15.
The Thunder went on to outscore the Spurs by only seven points in the second half, but it was more than enough to break San Antonio’s ten-victory playoff streak.
Durant’s 22 points led five Oklahoma City players in double figures, with the Thunder receiving a huge boost from starting shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha, who scored 19 and hit four three-pointers. Sefolosha averaged only 4.8 points per game during the regular season, and 4.0 in the postseason up to this point.
Harden scored nine points in the second quarter and finished with 15, while Serge Ibaka added 14 and Russell Westbrook 10. One game after Oklahoma City’s powerful troika of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden scored 88 points in defeat, the “big three” scored a collective 47 points in Game 3, but received timely contributions from Sefolosha and Ibaka to balance the scoring attack.
The Spurs did not have a single player log over 28 minutes, as head coach Gregg Popovich opted to keep his players fresh for Game 4, which is on Saturday night in Oklahoma City.
Tony Parker led the way with 16 points, while Tim Duncan scored 11. Stephen Jackson (16 points) and DeJuan Blair (10 points) both came off the bench to reach double digits, although Blair’s points came in the fourth quarter, when the game was already decided.
Will the Thunder ride home-court advantage to a series-tying victory on Saturday and deviate from last year’s script, when they failed to even the series against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4, or will San Antonio shake off its first loss in 50 days to push Oklahoma City to the brink of elimination? Chime in below!