Thundering Heard Finally On The Plains; Thabo Sefolosha Takes Over

By: 06.01.12
Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka, Dime #58

Manu Ginobili just kept rubbing his temples, not even looking ahead at the court. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan looked stonefaced, like they were at an opera. In the background, slightly out of focus, the blue T-shirts had coalesced into one dancing, delirious mob. The scene was the fourth quarter and if you haven’t already picked up the hint, nearly the entire quarter was garbage time because of how big the Oklahoma City lead had grown and the Spurs’ stars had to watch it. If you’re a San Antonio fan, it was indeed a tragedy being staged in Oklahoma City on Thursday in the Thunder’s Game 3 win. The series is now 2-1 Spurs and for the first time in 21 games, the mighty Spurs have lost a game — something like 50 days since their last L. It just wasn’t a usual Spurs game, with only four players in double figures, with one being Dejuan Blair, whose 10 points were all in the last nine minutes already down 20-plus. Credit is due more to OKC than anything. Scott Brooks sicced Thabo Sefolosha on Parker (16 points, 5 turnovers, 4 dimes) and Ginobili (8 points) all game, freeing up Russell Westbrook on offense. Not so much in the typical Russ fashion of scoring (he had just 10 points) but by letting him penetrate and kick (9 assists) or keep plays alive (7 boards). … By the way, did we miss why Blair is in the doghouse? He went from another reason to praise GM R.C. Buford for incredible drafting to a figment of Popovich’s imagination. … Key to this one was the role reversal going on with a changed strategy by Scott Brooks on offense. OKC took a memo from San Antonio and used the extra pass to penetrate with huge results — 44 points in the paint, 20 more than the visitors. Although one of the prettiest extra passes of the night came from Boris Diaw to Kawhi Leonard — the only bucket between the two all night, another huge break for OKC — in the key, the Thunder used their sudden composure playing in front of the home crowd to pull back on plays and not turn the ball over. They only had seven errors like that all game, while the SAS had 21. … What was up with Kendrick Perkins (4 points, 8 boards) staring down Marv Albert and Steve Kerr before the game? We know Chuck called out Perkins for playing like a ghost after Game 2 (and you really have to try to do so when you’re only a factor on one end) but uh, come on Perk. We know you have a strict policy of not looking like you’re enjoying yourself earning millions to hoop, but no need to stare down TV dudes. …
Hit the jump to read about the player who was all over the court.

Page 2

Kevin Durant

Thabo Sefolosha showed out on each end of the floor like he was told it was his last day on hardwood. We’ve already talked about his stifling (or just plain annoying) defense on the Spurs’ stars, but his range was incredible. By our count he guarded four different positions at some point, and then put in yeoman’s work with 19 points, including four threes. The most obvious sign he was feeling it, and that his teammates were happy to feed the night’s beast, was his 10 attempted threes. That was six more than he had all season. … Can we talk about the three, four huge missed dunks by OKC? Kevin Durant (22 points) and James Harden (15 points) had two that would have blown the roof off the arena. Durant’s came off the extra pass from Derek Fisher (he returned from Game 2 purgatory to score 5 points, drop 4 dimes). Harden’s attempt had an anger to it that was missing the first two games. … The Thunder bench’s count: 78 combined minutes, 1 combined turnover. … The last 10 minutes of the fourth, when San Anton basically conceded by pulling Parker and the Big Fundamental, was symbolic of the rest of the game. It was like the whole Thunder roster was HEATING UP like NBA Jam or something. Royal Ivy, Daequan Cook and Cole Aldrich were all drilling their shots, too. Meanwhile Patty Mills turned the ball over on his first few seconds of game time, leading to a Harden smash. So it went for the night. … Please tell us you saw Chuck’s cowboy boots given to him as a gift from Oklahoma’s governor? … We’re out like San Antonio’s streak.

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