NBA: Thunder Bounce Back to Win Game Three
Serge Ibaka (calf) was “not supposed to walk through those doors” at any time in this series, according to Thunder coach Scott Brooks before game one, but Ibaka made a surprise start in game three and his presence was felt immensely as the Oklahoma City Thunder won their first game of the series 106-97 to make the series 2-1 in favor of the San Antonio Spurs.
Ibaka was a dominating force right from the beginning of the game, hitting his first five shots of the night resulting in a 15 point, seven rebound, and four block performance.
Dating back to the 2012 playoffs the Thunder have won six in a row and 11 of 13 if Ibaka plays when the Thunder and Spurs face one another.
The MVP, Kevin Durant, scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while his counterpart Russell Westbrook scored 26 points, had eight rebounds, and dished out seven assists. Both Durant and Westbrook shot 8-8 from the free throw line after having just five free throw attempts combined in game two. The Thunder finished at 26-31 from the charity stripe.
Reggie Jackson started the game and had 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists while spacing out the floor enough to allow Westbrook and Durant to attack the Spurs in the paint.
Steven Adams played a phenomenal game as well off the bench. Adams played 28 minutes and scored seven points, grabbed nine boards, and like Ibaka he also blocked four shots. By having Ibaka and Adams’ presence felt in the paint the Thunder were able to outscore the Spurs 46-40 in the paint.
Manu Ginobili was San Antonio’s bright spot in the game with 23 points on 6-9 shooting from behind the arch. Tim Duncan chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds, but Tony Parker had a very disappointing performance with just nine points and four assists on 4-13 shooting. San Antonio only had three fast break points in the contest.
Game four will be played on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City with the Thunder hoping to even the series up at two apiece, while the Spurs will look to put Oklahoma City on the fringe of elimination.