By Tim Griffin
Gregg Popovich wanted some nasty Sunday night. The Spurs coach got an extended dose of it two nights later.
Tony Parker erupted for a season-playoff high 34 points and eight assists to lead the Spurs to a gritty but convincing 120-111 victory over Oklahoma City in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night at the ATT Center.
The victory extended the Spurs’ 20-game winning streak, making it one of the four longest in NBA history. It is the league’s longest victory including games at the end of the regular season and extending into the playoffs.
It also is the longest in the NBA since Houston won 22 consecutive games in the 2007-08 season.
But it wasn’t easy. Oklahoma City pulled within 99-93 on two foul shots by Westbrook with 5:40 left.
The Spurs answered with a pivotal 8-3 run including four points from Parker to help put the game away.
Manu Ginobili scored 20 points for the Spurs, including 10 in the fourth quarter. And Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan both notched doubles with Leonard producing 18 points and 10 rebounds and Duncan adding 11 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma with 31 points and James Harden added 30 before fouling out in the final minute of play. Russell Westbrook chipped in with 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. But the rest of the Thunder roster produced only 23 points.
Earlier, the game turned ugly when Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks mucked up the pace of the game late in the third quarter when he chose to hack Tiago Splitter on five successive possessions.
Splitter made five of the 10 free throws. But the exchanges helped slow down San Antonio’s offensive pace.
The Spurs hit 60 percent from the field in the first three quarters, but hit only three of their first 12 shots to start the fourth quarter.
Before the game, Brooks said his team seemed to “play nasty” coming off losses, considering they had a 15-3 record during the regular season.
But that definitely wasn’t the case Tuesday night as the Spurs jumped to a quick 10-2 lead and never trailed.
The Spurs are clearly in the driver’s seat as the series returns to Oklahoma City for Game 3 on Thursday night. NBA teams that have lost the first two games on the road end up losing the series 94.8 percent of the time.
And the Spurs have notched an incredible road streak during the second half of the season. When Popovich has utilized his complete roster, the Spurs have won 24 of their last 25 on the road.
Updates by Joe Alexander
The Spurs built a big lead and held off the Thunder down the stretch for a 120-111 victory and 2-0 series lead.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 34 points and 8 assists. Manu Ginobili had 20 points including a big 3-pointer late when the Thunder were making it close. Kawhi Leonard had 17 points and Tim Duncan had 11.
The Spurs led by as many as 22 points.
Fourth quarter: Tony Parker has 32 points. His jumper gives the Spurs a 107-96 lead with 3:39 left in the game. Thunder timeout.
Tim Duncan makes both free throws. He has 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Spurs lead 101-93 with 5 minutes left.
The Thunder have tightened up the defense in the fourth quarter. The Spurs’ shooting percentage is dropping. The Spurs still lead 99-91 with 5:40 left in the game.
The Thunder aren’t going away. They cut the Spurs’ lead to 95-85 with 9:37 left in the game. Spurs timeout.
Third quarter – Spurs 92, Thunder 76: The Spurs are still shooting 60 percent — that’s just not normal this far into the playoffs. Tim Duncan has 9 points and 9 rebounds. Manu Ginobili has 10 points off the bench. Tiago Splitter, thanks to lots of trips to the free-throw line, has 8 points.
Tony Parker has 26 points and 7 assist and has moments when it looks like he’s playing against a D-League defense. The Spurs lead 80-64 with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are up to 10 points each. Boris Diaw just made a driving basket. The Spurs lead 68-52 with 8:22 left in the third quarter. Thunder timeout.
Halftime – Spurs 55, Thunder 44: The Spurs are efficient on offense, shooting 57.9 percent with 6 turnover (14 first-half turnovers last game). Tony Parker has 17 points. Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Danny Green have 7 points each. Total rebounds are about even, but the Thunder had 10 offensive rebounds. Otherwise this would be on the way to a blowout right now.
Tony Parker has 17 points and 5 assists. The Spurs lead the Thunder 49-40 with 2:54 left in the half.
In the last three possessions the Spurs got back-to-back pick-and-roll baskets followed by a Stephen Jackson 3-pointer. The Spurs lead 42-29 with 7:07 left in the half. Thunder timeout.
The Spurs are holding the Thunder to 37.5 percent shooting. The Spurs lead 35-29 with 8:52 left in the half.
First quarter – Spurs 28, Thunder 22: Tony Parker has 10 points. Kevin Durant has 12. The Spurs have only 3 turnovers. The Spurs lead by six at the end of the first quarter. This looks like a good pace for the Spurs.
Tony Parker has 10 points in the first 8 minutes of the game. The Spurs lead 19-11 with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
Danny Green is looking better tonight. He has a basket and a 3-pointer in the early going.
Tony Parker has 4 points and an assist. The Spurs lead 10-2 and notably are not turning the ball over early. The Spurs lead 10-2. Thunder timeout.
Spurs starters: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked before tonight’s game if Manu Ginobili can continue to play as many minutes as he did in Game 1:
“He’s probably never done that before. So I don’t know how to answer that. He’s had a lot in the tank because he hasn’t had to do that very often, but it’s playoff time, and there are no back-to-backs. So my guess would be that minutes aren’t a problem.
The Spurs play the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at 8 p.m. at the ATT Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
Join Jeff McDonald and Tim Griffin for a live game chat (below) beginning at 7:30 p.m.