Game 5 Belongs to the Visitors
by Randy Watson
The San Antonio Spurs have seen better days. I am not sure if the Spur’s fans would rather see their team lose in person, at home, or on TV, but they lost nonetheless and a loss is a loss regardless of the location. The Spurs started out well and took a quick lead but that lead slowly evaporated as the Thunder took control and eventually won 108 to 106.
Ibaka not the Man Tonight
The San Antonio Spurs did not have to worry about Serge Ibaka shooting perfectly this time around as he finished with only 9 points. But he still went 4-6 from the floor and those are pretty good numbers for a big man who is not the go-to player within the Thunder’s offense, or any offense for that matter.
Pass the Ball Westbrook
This is a classic series of fundamentals and solid basketball verse young legs and huge lungs. The Thunder do not seem to tire despite how many times they have to run up and down the court chasing Ginobili. They seem to have one break away after another and they are exciting to watch. The Spurs are outstanding to watch as well, certainly if you enjoy watching basketball be played how it is supposed to be played, by passing and superlative defense. It is hard though to check a team that is so much athletically superior to you though. Kevin Durant is a cross between Magic Johnson and Reggie Miller. He would probably even do a little better though if his buddy point guard, Russell Westbrook, would not dribble so much. Westbrook sure seems to slip a lot. Despite that, Westbrook made a key jumper, with about 2 minutes remaining, giving the Thunder a little more cushion.
Tough Match Up
The Spurs were hit hard in the second quarter and they trailed at the half by 8 points, 52-44. They were down by over 10 points several times in the second quarter as it seemed the Thunder were going to run them out of the arena. This was not a good quarter for Manu Ginobili as he was outplayed by his left handed and bearded nemesis James Harden (both of these players fought to win the 6th Man of the Year award but Harden prevailed in the voting for this award).
The Spurs are in Trouble
Ginobili may have been defeated in the 2nd quarter but he was not beaten. The Spurs would make a strike in the 3rd quarter as Ginobili returned as the Ginobili he has always been. But the Thunder would not quit and still took the quarter as they finished the 3rd quarter up by 9 points. This is pretty impressive since the San Antonio Spurs were smoking the entire league and were seemingly unbeatable when they were up 2-0 in this series. Now the tables have turned and the Spurs are looking at the brink of elimination; a thought that would have been summarily laughed at by almost anyone a week ago. Now the Spurs are seeing stars as they head into Game 6 and they have to return to probably the loudest arenas in the NBA, in Oklahoma. Anyone who says the folks in Oklahoma City are not proud to have an NBA team are not living on the same planet as the rest of us.
Ginobili was Awesome
The 4th quarter was spectacular, certainly if you were a Spur’s fan. But the Spurs could not seal the deal despite the best efforts from Tim Duncan and some outstanding flopping around by Ginobili and Tony Parker. They did ring up some foul calls and stop the Thunder’s momentum but the outstanding play by pretty much everyone on the Thunder’s team was too much for the Spurs to handle. Duncan finished with 18 points but Ginobili carried the day with 34. Ginobili knows how to shoot a basketball and he hit some huge 3 pointers in the second half.
Fisher was Significant
Gregg Popovich, the prolific and incredible winning coach with the Spurs, could only do so much. He argued with the refs in desperation in the 4th quarter after another fast break by Durant and rebound by Durant as he then made an open 16 footer with ease. The Thunder were having their way with the Spurs much to the chagrin of the home town crowd. Derek Fisher played well for the Thunder; well, he has been down this road before many times but now he is doing it with a team that is respectable.
The Spurs almost tied it up at the end but a huge three pointer by James Harden almost shut the door completely on the Spurs chances with about a 1:30 remaining. Harden’s three was supreme and it did not seem like the Spurs had enough time to catch the Thunder – which they did not as evident by the final score. It just seemed like whatever the Spurs tossed at the Thunder, the Thunder had Captain America’s shield and then they shot back with Iron Man’s palm laser beams.
The Times have Changed
The Spurs are finally looking their age which is shocking to many considering they were blowing teams out just a short time ago. Just go ask the Clippers.