Parker carries Spurs to 20th consecutive win
SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker hit the floor hard in the second quarter of Tuesday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference finals after a foul from Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
Once he got up, the Thunder never could seem to touch Parker again.
Parker scored a game-high 34 points and added eight assists, leading the Spurs to a 120-111 victory against Oklahoma City and their 20th consecutive win.
The Spurs held off a fourth-quarter Oklahoma City rally to take a 2-0 series lead at the AT&T Center. Manu Ginobili added 20 points.
Parker torched the Thunder on pick-and-rolls, making 16 of 21 field-goal attempts.
“It was just one of those nights,” Parker said. “This game, I took my time and waited for my moment, especially on the pick-and-rolls.”
It was San Antonio’s 10th consecutive playoff victory and 20th win overall, a franchise record. Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday in Oklahoma City.
San Antonio led 92-76 after three quarters when James Harden ignited an Oklahoma City comeback, helping the Thunder cut the lead to six. Harden had eight points in the Thunder’s 16-6 run, but Oklahoma City never got closer than the 99-93 deficit with 5:40 remaining.
Although the Spurs never trailed, they did allow more 100 points for the first time this postseason. Ginobili had eight points in the final four minutes to ward off Oklahoma City.
“They came back very strong on us,” Parker said. “They had a huge end of the third quarter, fourth quarter, and we just tried to hold on.”
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 31 points, while Harden added 30 and Russell Westbrook had 27.
The rest of the Thunder lineup combined to make seven of 33 shots for 23 points.
The Spurs had plenty of balance, as Kawhi Leonard added 18 points and forward Tim Duncan had 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Spurs made 55.1 percent (43 of 78) of their field-goal attempts, including 42.3 percent (11 of 26) of their 3-pointers to hit a scoring high for this postseason.
After Westbrook committed a hard foul on Parker midway through the second quarter, Parker scored the Spurs’ next seven points and increased the lead to 49-37.
Parker had 17 points and five assists at halftime, giving the Spurs a 55-44 lead at the break.
The biggest cheer from the crowd came midway through the third quarter on an uncontested 3-pointer by Parker, with Ginobili on the assist. It was part of a 12-2 run that gave the Spurs their biggest lead of the night at 80-58.
Oklahoma City switched to a third-quarter strategy of fouling forward Tiago Splitter, who entered the game having made eight of 25 free throws (32 percent) in the playoffs. Splitter hit six of 12 on Tuesday, but the Thunder made their rally shortly after employing the hack-a-Splitter game plan.
“It changed the tempo a little bit,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “They were fast tonight. That ball was all over the floor with their quick passes, and that threw off their rhythm a little bit.”
The Spurs jumped out to a 10-2 lead to start the game, carrying over momentum from a 101-98 victory in Game 1.
Durant and Harden both had 14 points at the half as the Thunder tried to keep up with the Spurs, and Westbrook scored 19 in the second half.
“Sometimes getting leads is great. You’d rather have that than the alternative,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “But it’s also your worst nightmare because it’s a 48-minute game, and a lot of stuff goes on.”
NOTES: Duncan’s four blocks gave him 473 career postseason blocked shots, passing Hakeem Olajuwon (472) for second all-time. Duncan needs four more blocks to pass postseason leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. … Oklahoma City has a 15-4 record in games played after a loss. The Thunder’s last losing streak was a three-game slide against Memphis, Miami and Indiana from April 2-6. … San Antonio came back from a nine-point deficit entering the fourth quarter in Game 1, pushed by a speech from Popovich when he told players, “I want some nasty.” The phrase has become a rallying cry in San Antonio, with local retail stores printing shirts with the quote. … The last team to come back from a 2-0 series deficit was the 2007-08 Spurs.