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Durant, Thunder aim to even WCF against Spurs

10:32 AM, Jun 2, 2012   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - It took 50 days for San Antonio to finally taste defeat again.

Now the Oklahoma City Thunder hope to get greedy and beat the Spurs for the second time in three nights as they try to even the Western Conference Finals in Game 4 on Saturday night.

Kevin Durant scored 22 points and Thabo Sefolosha added 19 and provided excellent defense on Spurs star Tony Parker as the Thunder rolled to a 102-82 victory in Game 3 on Thursday.

"I thought Thabo did a good job," Oklahoma city coach Scott Brooks said, "but I thought the biggest adjustment -- we played better."

The Spurs suffered their first defeat since April 11, ending a stretch of 20 straight wins. The run included 10 victories in the postseason, including triumphs in the first two games of this series.

"Everybody wants to win every game. That's what you try to do: You try to win," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They played great and they had a lot to do with us playing poorly, but nobody wants to lose a game in the playoffs. You try to win every game."

The Thunder jumped out to an 8-0 lead on Thursday and led by as many as 27 to improve to 6-0 at home in the postseason. They racked up 18 fastbreak points and got a strong effort from their supporting cast. The lengthy Sefolosha had six steals and scored 16 of his points in the second half. Serge Ibaka finished with 14 points and three blocks and James Harden scored 15.

"We came out and played with a sense of urgency that we need to play with for the rest of the series," said Durant.

Parker and Stephen Jackson had 16 points apiece to pace San Antonio, which shot just 39.5 percent and committed 21 turnovers, leading to 20 Thunder points.

"We played great defense from the start," said Brooks. "Defensively, that was as well as you can play against the best team in basketball."

Tim Duncan scored seven of his 11 points in the first quarter and the Spurs withstood Oklahoma City's early barrage to go on top 13-12. They held on for a 24-22 lead after one but the Thunder gained control in the second quarter and never looked back.

Harden was the catalyst in the second frame. He scored nine straight points as part of an 18-6 run to open the stanza. Sefolosha added a three-pointer and backup big man Nick Collison had a pair of buckets, including a layup which gave the Thunder a 40-30 advantage.

OKC pushed the lead to 15 before halftime and never trailed again.

It got so bad that Popovich sat his starters for the entirety of the final frame. By the end the Spurs, who tallied a postseason-best 120 points in Game 2 and were averaging 109.4 during their winning streak, were held to a season- low 82 points in Game 3.

"They played very well. They played like it was a close-out game," said Popovich. "They were very active, physical, they moved the ball well on offense and they did all those things better than we did. They beat us good."

Now it's San Antonio's turn to try to make adjustments and figure out how to get Parker and Manu Ginobili better looks against a defense with huge wingspans all over the floor.

"They're a great team. They won 20 games (in a row). They're not going to push the panic button after one loss," Brooks said.

Evening the series is paramount for OKC. Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series.

The Spurs went 2-1 against the Thunder during the lockout-shortened regular season. Oklahoma City won the first meeting, 108-96 on Jan. 8 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but the Spurs came back to take the season series with a 107-96 victory Feb. 4 at the AT&T Center and a 114-105 road win March 16.

In the postseason, this rivalry dates back to 1982 when the Thunder were known as the Seattle SuperSonics. The Spurs topped Seattle three times in the playoffs, '82, 2002 and 2005. This is the first time the franchises have met since the Sonics relocated to OKC in 2008.

Game 5 of the series is scheduled for Monday in San Antonio.

The Sports Network

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