Oklahoma City Thunder Advance to NBA Finals
The Oklahoma City Thunder are headed to the NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 34 points with 14 rebounds, Russell Westbrook added 25 points and James Harden scored 16 off the bench to lead the Thunder to a 107-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals to win the series 4-2.
It’s the Thunder franchise’s first trip to the Finals since relocating from Seattle four years ago.
The Thunder became just the 15th team in NBA history to come back to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 2-0.
“We’re one step closer to our dream,” Durant said after the win. “It’s a great feeling right now, but tomorrow we have to get over it and see who we’re going to play.”
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 29 points and 12 assists. Tim Duncan added 25 points and 14 rebounds and Stephen Jackson chipped in 23 points off the bench for San Antonio.
“Congratulations to the Oklahoma City organization, Clay Bennett, wonderful man,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “Sam Presti, who assembled that group, and of course Scott Brooks and his staff did a wonderful job, the players and the city, enjoy the heck out of it as they should. Congrats to all of them. Great, great stuff. From our end, we had a wonderful season. Everybody wants to be the last team standing, but in many ways this group may have even overachieved.”
“It’s almost like a Hollywood script for OKC in a sense,” Popovich added. “You know, they went through Dallas, last year’s NBA champion, then they went through the Lakers, then they went through us. Those three teams represent 10 of the last 13 championships, and now they’re going to go to The Finals and play either Boston or Miami, and that’ll be 11 of the last 13 championships. I don’t know if anybody has ever had a run or gone through a playoff playing those kinds of teams. It’s just incredible, and I think it’s pretty cool for them.”
The Thunder came alive in the third quarter, exploding out of the locker room with a 14-4 run to pull within 67-62 on a 3-pointer by Durant. San Antonio got two straight buckets, a floater by Duncan and a finger roll by Ginobili, to bump its lead back to nine. But the Thunder closed the quarter on an 18-10 run from there to go into the fourth quarter trailing just 81-80.
After outscoring San Antonio 32-18 in the third period, Oklahoma City had seized control of the game. The Thunder used a 10-3 run over the first five minutes of the fourth to take a 90-84 lead
The Spurs led 34-20 at the end of the first quarter, a margin made by a quick start and some shoddy defense by the Thunder. After scoring the first five points of the game, San Antonio slowly built its lead until it ballooned to be as big as 18 points.
The Spurs stunned the crowd by using a 19-4 run to take a commanding 34-16 lead with 1:27 remaining in the quarter. Parker torched the Thunder throughout the period, scoring 17 points with five assists while making seven of 10 shots. San Antonio, which had been plagued by turnovers, also controlled the ball much better. The Spurs had just one turnover in the first 12 minutes. It led to incredible offensive efficiency, as the Spurs shot 60.9 percent in the period.
Oklahoma City spent the second quarter playing catch up but never could close the gap. San Antonio outscored Oklahoma City 29-28 in the quarter to take a 63-48 at the half. The Spurs were still shooting 54.5 percent from the field and had made nine of 15 3-pointers.
Parker had scored 21 points with 10 assists by halftime, and Jackson had 12 of his points in the opening half, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range. The Spurs’ ball movement and ball security continued to work for them in the second quarter, and San Antonio had racked up 15 assists against just three turnovers at halftime.