#1 SAN ANTONIO SPURS 99 @ #2 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 107
WEST Finals * Game 6 * Thunder WIN series, 4-2
The crowd was still standing even after tipoff. It was amazing. However, the Spurs did their best to quiet them down early. Tony Parker, in particular, did whatever he wanted. Teardrops. Lay-ups. Jumpers. Passing it to the open man. It was all him. He scored 17 points in the first quarter as his Spurs led, 34-20, after the first quarter. You could say that... Parker was french-toasting the Thunder.
It was more of the same in the second half but this time around, it was Stephen Jackson hitting three-pointer after three-pointer. He had four three-pointers by the half. However, Kevin Durant made a contested three with time running out in the second quarter. That gave the Thunder a bit of life going into the second half even though they were still down, 63-48.
In the second half, the Thunder turned up the defense. The shots by Parker were no longer going in. Even though StackJack continued to make threes, the Thunder offense woke up. The ball movement was a lot more crisp. Westbrook was making his midrange jumpers and making passes he wouldn't have made last season. Thabo Sefolosha played good D once again and provided extra offense. Finally, Kevin Durant three-pointer from way deep gave the Thunder a 79-77 lead late in the 3rd.
Oklahoma City and San Antonio kept it close for most of the fourth. They finally got Duncan working in the post and it seemed like the Spurs were ready to steal the game back. But Derek Fisher (remember HIM) and James Harden had other ideas. First, Fisher made a huge 3 to put the Thunder up 5. James Harden made another three to put them up 6. Westbrook made a lay-up to keep that distance and, finally, Fisher made a bank shot with less than two minutes to go to keep them up 6.
San Antonio was in desperation mode with less than a minute to go. Their three-point attempts produced nothing. Finally, Kendrick Perkins... >=(... made a dunk to put the game away. He was so happy about it. Just like how happy he was every time he squashed the Mario Bros.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are going to the NBA Finals.
Tony Parker finished with 29 points (12/27 shooting) and 12 assists but he missed nine straight shots after a fast start. Duncan had an old-school performance with 25 points and 14 assists. StackJack made 6/7 behind the arc and finished with 23 points while Manu Ginobili gave little with 10 points. On the other side, Durant played all 48 minutes and went for 34 points and 14 boards. Westbrook had a great 25-8-5 game and Harden had 16 points off the bench. The old-timer, Fisher, provided 9 points off the pine as well and hit two key shots in the fourth quarter. But you didn't expect anything less from him, did you?
Oklahoma City is young. But they have one hell of a talented team. Obviously, we know what Kevin Durant can do. Russell Westbrook's game has taken another step and James Harden really made that leap this year. Throw in the key components like Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison's defense, the ever-growing game of Serge Ibaka, and the championship experience of Fisher and Perkins... >=(... and you've got one hell of a squad. Their long-term plans? We'll worry about that later.
San Antonio is still one hell of a team and I remember saying that it kinda didn't make sense the Spurs made it this far. Their defense hasn't been that great this season. But we'll give credit to Pop for adjusting his system to befit his personnel. Just that maybe he should've given a bit more... attention to the defense. It just wasn't good enough.
But you know who was good enough? The Oklahoma City Thunder. They beat the team that eliminated them last year, Dallas. Then they beat the team that eliminated them two years ago, the Lakers. Finally, they beat a team that has had all the experience all the world AND won 20 straight during the season, San Antonio. And they are going to be in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Congratulations, Oklahoma City.
PHOTO CREDITS: Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images.