Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spurs sweep Thunder, 4-0, en route to the NBA Finals.

The Spurs stormed into the western conference finals in a shootout with the OKC Thunder, led by MVP Kevin Durant, but it was Kawhi Leonard that gave an exemplary performance with 27 points.
A high-scoring affair, the Spurs tested different lineups throughout the game, which luckily did not cause trouble as they opened the game on an 8-1 run, and ultimately won this first strike 132-121 on their home court. Clearly, the Spurs can't allow 121 points every night.

Ray Allen's shot was off, but an aggressive Tony Parker (17 points) and a solid team effort made up for it. Danny Green had 15 points, prospect Ray MacCallum had 13 points on three long balls, Ginobili had 13 points, Tim Duncan had 12 & 7 rebounds and "AK" had 11 points.

In the losing effort, not helped by poor shooting by Anthony Morrow and Dion Waiters, Russell Westbrook had 15 points (6-13) as he struggled from a tenacious double-team by the Spurs. The MVP, Kevin Durant, had 21 points on 8-14 shooting but played somewhat timidly and heated up too late in the game. Big man Enes Kanter had 18 points and 14 rebounds, but was just 6-18 from the floor down low and Serge Ibaka had a quiet night.

In Game 2, the Spurs did a better job at containing OKC's scoring, limited them to only 105 points, to SA's 117 victorious ones, despite the first quarter being a shot-for-shot affair. Russell Westbrook dashed around the double teams all night long and Kevin Durant got some fast break jams. But on the other end, this intensity was matched by Duncan, Allen and Parker and especially by Kawhi who also can throw it down.

In a tie game late, Ray Allen got a steal on Westbrook which led to an 8-0 run, capped by a Danny Green three-pointer for a 10 point lead, 109-99, and a 32-22 scoring advantage in an otherwise tight contest.

Westbrook had 23 points and 8 assists, Durant had only 20 (on 9-11 shooting) but again was hesitant to take over the game, and Waiters was 4-12 again. Meanwhile, Tony Parker had 24 points and 6 assists, Ray Allen had 20 points, Leonard had 19, Duncan had 16 and Green had 12. Tyrus Thomas had 10 points and 7 rebounds.

A new idea put Ray Allen on Russell Westbrook, and it was better as Westbrook managed only 18 points with 13 assists. Kawhi Leonard had another strong game with 28 points and 6 three-pointers, outdoing Danny Green's 16pts and 4 three-point bombs. However, Kawhi and Duncan fell into foul trouble which caused substitutions and too many easy trips to the FT line for OKC.

However, Tyrus Thomas played well with extended time, making several mid range jumpshots to help the cause, and Kawhi Leonard showed flashes of greatness with a scrambled play that led to a fadeaway 3PTer and two consecutive 3s that sparked a run for San Antonio. On the other end of the court, OKC shot a dreadful 37% and the 4th quarter began with a wide open miss by the MVP, Kevin Durant (held to a meager 15 points). Tyrus Thomas had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the champs.

Manu Ginobili had 13 points and 7 assists, Tony Parker had 12 points with 10 assists, Tim Duncan had 13 points with 8 rebounds. In the losing effort, Dion Waiters had 18 points, Enes Kanter had 13&10, but the Spurs won this one big, 123-98, in what would prove to be a deafening loss at home for the Thunder.

Game 4 was the death knell for the MVP-led team, as OKC fell 112-104 at home, despite a sloppy opening quarter by the champs. The Thunder held a 28-19 lead after one, but a 21-6 run by SA all but ended the game from thereon. Back to back blocks by Green and Leonard forced shot clock violations as the 3s began to fall for SA; one play included a trio of blocks which led to a 3 for Ray Allen on the other end.

 Kawhi Leonard had 33 points, including an and-1 play on Durant. Danny Green blocked Westbrook at the rim for the finishing touches. There was just a lid on the basket for the Thunder. A 13-5 run in the 3rd gave SA a 16 point lead after a dunk and a 3 by Leonard, then another mighty 11-3 run for a 96-77 advantage.

Despite a block on the MVP by Andrei Kirilenko, the Thunder rallied one last time to cut the lead to 8, only for Ginobili to drop a tomahawk dunk and raise it back to 10, then splash home a three in the final minute. The Thunder missed free throws, put-back attempts, just about everything in this final game. But Westbrook did manage to score OKC's 100th point in the game.

Ray Allen had 19 points from a handful of threes from the team's 20 total bombs, Manu had 13 with 5 assists, Parker had 12 on four three-pointers, Green had 14, Duncan had 9&5, Andrei Kirilenko had 3 of SA's 14 total blocks, and Westbrook scored 32 points with 8 assists (13-14 FTs). Durant had only 16 points (6-14) and Ibaka was only a force on the glass with 14 rebounds. Waiters had 18.

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