The Spurs are not a team that routinely gives up leads. In fact, they were the best fourth-quarter team in the league this season. If San Antonio heads into the final frame with a chance to close out a victory, they’re pretty good at finishing the job.
But that wasn’t the case in Game 4 against Oklahoma City on Sunday. Thanks to the efforts of Steven Adams and Kevin Durant, the Thunder managed to pull off a comeback in grand fashion: Trailing by four heading into the final 12 minutes, OKC walked away with an emphatic 111-97 win to even the series at 2 apiece.
The Thunder totally overwhelmed the usually cool and collective Spurs in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 34-16 in that final 12 minutes. In fact, Durant outscored San Antonio on his own dropping 17 of his 41 points in the fourth.
Collapses of that magnitude simply don’t happen to a Gregg Popovich-coached team, especially in the playoffs. In fact, the 18-point fourth quarter blowout was the second worst in the playoffs since Popovich took over in 1997. The San Antonio Express-News, compiled a list of the worst fourth quarter performances in Spurs playoff history, and only a 19-point drubbing by the Mavs in the 2003 Western Conference Finals was worse fourth-quarter falter under Popovich.
The good news for the Spurs is that by virtue of their Game 3 win, they still have the home court advantage and still have an excellent chance of advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the fourth time in five years. However, they had a golden opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead on the road, and uncharacteristically let it slip away.