By Tim Griffin
OKLAHOMA CITY – Kevin Durant erupted for 22 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 102-82 victory over the Spurs in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
The loss snapped the Spurs’ 20-game winning streak which ended up as the fourth longest in NBA history. The Spurs’ last loss before Thursday came April 11 when the Los Angeles Lakers beat them in San Antonio.
A determined defensive effort and Durant’s fast start helped the Thunder pull within 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 will be played Saturday night in Oklahoma City.
Thabo Sefolosha made the most of extending playing time to produce 19 points and six steals. Sefolosha played only 15 minutes in the Thunder’s Game 2 loss in San Antonio.
James Harden scored 15, Serge Ibaka added 14 and Russell Westbrook filled the scoresheet with 10 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.
Duncan notched five blocked shots to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most playoff rejections since the NBA started recording the statistic in 1973-74. Duncan has 478 plus. Abdul-Jabbar has 476.
With a 78-60 deficit heading into the fourth quarter, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich opted to rest Duncan and Tony Parker for the rest of the game. Parker finished with 16 points and five turnovers and Duncan had 11 points but produced only two rebounds to match his career playoff low, set Apr. 23, 2009 against Dallas.
Stephen Jackson also added 16 for the Spurs, who finished with a playoff-low 40 percent from the field with 21 turnovers. DeJuan Blair scored 10 points in garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Durant scored 16 points in the first half to lead the Thunder to a 54-41 halftime lead as they dominated the game from the start of the second quarter.
The Thunder showed it was going to be different from the start as a feisty defensive effort forced 13 Spurs turnovers in the first half and limited them to 40 percent shooting before the break
Harden added 11 points and Westbrook chipped in with eight as the Thunder extended their lead up to 15 points before the break.
Parker led San Antonio with 11 points and Duncan added nine, but the Spurs were out of synch throughout the game.
Durant’s technical with 9:22 left in the second quarter seemed to ignite the Thunder.
After Manu Ginobili’s free throw on the technical pulled the Spurs within 31-28, Oklahoma City took control on a 15-4 run punctuated by a pull-up jumper by Westbrook that gave them a 46-32 with 4:15 left.
Earlier, the Spurs weathered an early charge by the Thunder who jumped to an 8-0 lead in the first 3 minutes.
Parker had trouble with Thabo Sefolosha’s length in the early going as Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks opted to put him on the Spurs point guard after his 34-point game in Game 2 Tuesday night.
Sefolosha responded with four steals in the Spurs’ first seven possessions as the Spurs contributed seven turnovers in the first quarter.
Duncan was active in the first quarter after struggling most of the first two games. He hit for seven points in the first quarter as he tried six shots in the first six minutes.
Duncan and Parker combined to score all but one of the Spurs’ first 15 points. But Stephen Jackson came out with a productive ending to the first quarter with some strong defense on Durant and five straight points to boost the Spurs into the lead. Ginobili hit two foul shots to give the Spurs a 24-22 lead at the quarter break.
The Spurs shot only 35.3 percent in the second quarter as the Thunder took control and never trailed after the first minute in the second quarter. and have to get their offense going if they have any hope of extending their strength.
And considering the way the raucous crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena has responded, it will be the most difficult challenge the Spurs have faced since tax day
Updates by Joe Alexander
The Spurs lost for the first time since April 11 and for the first time in this postseason.
Their 20-game win streak ended with a thud in a 102-82 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
The Spurs still lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. The Thunder’s victory guarantees there will be a Game 5 on Monday at the ATT Center.
The Spurs were plagued from the outset by turnovers and mediocre shooting. The Thunder were aggressive on defense and consistently turned Spurs turnovers into points. The Spurs finished with 21 turnovers.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had all of his starters on the bench with more than eight minutes left in the game. The Thunder pulled their starters midway through the fourth quarter.
Tony Parker and Stephen Jackson led the Spurs with 16 points each. Tim Duncan had 11 points and blocked 5 shots – he became the NBA career leader in postseason blocked shots.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 22 points and Thabo Sefolosha had 19.
Fourth quarter: The Thunder lead the Spurs 100-75 with 2:57 left.
The Thunder lead 86-63. There’s 9:47 left in the fourth quarter, but this one is basically over.
Third quarter – Thunder 78, Spurs 60: Barring a huge comeback, the Spurs are going to lose for the first time since April 11. The Thunder lead by 18 at the end of the third quarter.
The Thunder lead the Spurs 73-53 with 2:06 left in the third quarter. Kevin Durant has 22 points. The Spurs have 17 turnovers and are shooting 38.8 percent.
The Thunder continue to build on their lead early in the second half. It’s Thunder 63, Spurs 46 with 7:59 left in the third quarter.
Halftime – Thunder 54, Spurs 41: The Spurs have 13 turnovers. Kevin Durant leads the Thunder with 16 points, James Harden has 11. Tony Parker leads the Spurs with 11 points, Tim Duncan has 9 and Manu Ginobili has 8.
The Thunder’s biggest lead of the half was 14 points at 46-32. The Thunder lead 49-37 with 3:01 left in the half.
The Thunder have their biggest lead so far at 44-32. The Spurs are up to 11 turnovers and are shooting 39.3 percent.
The Thunder went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead – again taking advantage of Spurs turnovers. The Thunder are in front 31-28 with 8:59 left in the half.
First quarter – Spurs 24, Thunder 22: The Spurs missed their first four shots of the game and turned the ball over 7 times. Despite that the Spurs lead by two at the end of the first quarter.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker scored 7 points each in the first 9 minutes of the game. The Thunder lead the spurs 16-15 with 2:43 left in the first quarter.
After the Thunder led 8-0 in the opening minutes, the Spurs lead 13-12. That’s the Spurs’ first lead of the game.
The Spurs missed their first four shots. Tim Duncan made the Spurs’ first two baskets and Tony Parker hit a 3-pointer and a long jumper. The Thunder lead the Spurs 12-10 after leading by eight points.
The Spurs open with four quick turnovers and the Thunder jump out to an 8-0 lead.
Spurs starters: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan.
The Spurs play on the road tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8 p.m. in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
Join Jeff McDonald and Tim Griffin for a live game chat (below) beginning at 7:30 p.m.