Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Spurs win opener

SAN ANTONIO—The San Antonio Spurs were planning to attack the lane whether Oklahoma City big man Serge Ibaka was playing or not.
The fact that the Thunder’s athletic defender was absent only made things easier for them.

Tim Duncan scored 27 points as San Antonio took advantage of Ibaka’s absence to dominate the paint—dumping Oklahoma City 122-105 last night in the opener of the Western Conference final.
Tony Parker did not appear limited by a hamstring injury, scoring 14 points and having 12 assists in 36 minutes.
“We always want to try to penetrate,” Parker noted. “We always want our ball movement, that’s how we play—kick and pitch and stuff like that.
“You know, obviously it’s a little bit better with [Ibaka] not being in the paint, but we’re still going to try to penetrate and make stuff happen,” he added.
The Thunder got their usual offensive outputs from all-stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who scored 28 and 25 points, respectively.
But Oklahoma City’s remaining starters—Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha, and Kendrick Perkins—combined to score just five points with 13 rebounds and one assist.
But it was defensively were the Thunder struggled without Ibaka, who will miss the rest of the post-season after suffering a calf injury in Oklahoma City’s series’ clincher against the L.A. Clippers.
The Spurs had 66 points in the paint and shot 58 percent from the field. It was the highest shooting percentage allowed by the Thunder in the post-season since relocating from Seattle.
“We’re a no-excuse team,” stressed Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
“Serge is out. He’s not coming back.
“We have to play better,” he noted. “If we expect to beat one of the best teams in basketball, and a very good offensive team, we have to play and we’re not going to make an excuse.”
Even though San Antonio improved to 7-1 at home in the playoffs, winning their past five games by an average of 20.6 points, last night’s victory was not easy.
The Spurs also still remember what happened in the 2012 conference final, when the Thunder won four-straight to rally from an 0-2 deficit.
“We knew that we have to play our best game to compete against them, and I think it’s great to have an appropriate fear,” Parker said.
“They played great against us in 2012 and we know that we have to be perfect,” he added.
“They’re younger than us and more athletic, and so we have to be more perfect.”

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