Oklahoma City Thunder – 108
San Antonio Spurs – 103
Fellow writer Mike Owens and I are cooperatively covering this series. Mike covers the home team while I cover the away team.
The Thunder came into San Antonio full of momentum coming off of two straight home victories. Other than an early technical foul on Kendrick Perkins for displaying overt frustration, the Thunder played remarkably flawless. They allowed the Spurs to hang at times, including a scare towards the end of the game, but hit the key shots when necessary.
The Big 3. Let’s escape Miami for a moment. The Oklahoma City Thunder have a Big 3 of their own: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. Unlike the previous four games, all three players came up huge in their respective roles. Kevin Durant provided solid, efficient scoring and leadership as he always does. When the game got tight, Durant was the one stepping up to hit the big shots and the difficult shots, including an acrobatic fade away buzzer beater to close the third quarter. He set the example for his teammates to follow. Russell Westbrook got over his slump as he scored 23 points and dished out 12 assists. His shot volume is still more than desired, but one cannot complain with the results. Russell Westbrook is wired with energy and it flows through his teammates, urging them to exert the same effort.
The game changer was James Harden. The Spurs got into striking distance late in the fourth quarter and while Durant was defended, Harden was the next offensive option. He stepped up when he needed to and scored on big plays. Harden matched everything the Spurs threw at the Thunder. He hit three after three, including a big four point play. The biggest shot of the game was the contested three point shot Harden hit to put the Thunder up 106-101. Manu Ginobili cheated up to double team Harden, but backed off allowing Harden the extra space he needed between him and the defender. That shot turned out to be the game winner, despite two more points being scored.
The Thunder beat the Spurs on their own court to gain the upper hand heading back to Oklahoma City. The Thunder have set themselves up nicely to win the series, but they’ll have to repeat this effort they displayed in Game 5. San Antonio is not going to hand this series over on a silver platter. They will have to show why they have Championship rings.
“Championship teams win on the road,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.
Tune in Wednesday at 9 p.m to see if Oklahoma City moves on to the 2012 NBA Finals or if the San Antonio Spurs extend the series to a Game 7.
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