Thunder hand Spurs first playoff loss, snapped 20 game win streak
After playing a near perfect game on Tuesday night, the San Antonio Spurs started Game 3 on the wrong foot. They committed four turnovers on their first six possessions and trailed 0-8 early in the first quarter, before coming back strong to take a 24-22 lead after the opening period.
However, the Oklahoma City Thunder knew what they have to do. With the game virtually a must win for them, the Thunder blew the game wide open using a 32-17 second quarter blast, to grab a 13-point lead at halftime, and never looked back.
Kevin Durant scored 22 points, Thabo Sefolosha had a playoff career-bests with 19 points and six steals, and Oklahoma snapped San Antonio's 20-game winning streak by beating the Spurs 102-82 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday night.
Sefolosha set the tone on defense at the start, getting four steals in the first 3 minutes. The Spurs ended up committing a postseason-worst 21 turnovers and scoring their least points all season.
Tony Parker and Stephen Jackson led the Spurs with 16 points apiece. Tim Duncan had 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the field.
The Spurs' last loss was to the Los Angeles Lakers at home on April 11, 2012.
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-oop pass and Sefolosha followed with a reverse layup on another turnover-fueled 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.
The Spurs managed only 24 points in the paint after averaging 46 through the first two games of the series and 47.8 through the playoffs.
Oklahoma City already held a 28-8 scoring edge in the paint while taking a 54-41 halftime lead and it never got better for San Antonio, which couldn't get any closer than 11 points in the second half.
Win the win, the Thunder cut their series deficit to 2-1 and will host Game 4 on Saturday night.