Thunder Outlast San Antonio Spurs in Game 2; Tie Series at 1-1
Monday night in San Antonio, the Oklahoma City Thunder drew the series even at one game-a-piece with a tight 98-97 win. Russell Westbrook had 29 points and 10 assists, while Kevin Durant added 28 points.
After getting blown out by 32 in game 1, OKC responded by jumping out to an early lead. After their previous slow start, it was clear that a sense of urgency to start the game was a point of emphasis from coach Billy Donovan.
Despite shooting poorly to start the game, the Spurs managed to weather the storm a bit with some timely 3’s from Patty Mills and Danny Green to get within 3 towards the end of the first quarter. The Thunder finished with an 8 point advantage after one and that lead was trimmed to 3 at the half.
The big man for San Antonio, LaMarcus Aldridge, carried the team in the first half and finished with a monster stat line of 41 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. More impressive were his shooting totals, going 15/21 from the field and 10/10 from the line as he dominated whoever was guarding him, including normally stout defender Serge Ibaka. This game was tight all the way, following the early runs by both teams. They headed to the 4th quarter separated by just one point.
The Controversy Begins
This game will be remembered for the crazy sequence in the final seconds. With Oklahoma City up 98-97 with 13.5 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Dion Waiters was attempting to inbound the ball. He appeared to elbow Manu Ginobli to get the space needed to make the inbound pass. The refs did not call a foul and the ball was inbounded to Durant.
He was immediately stripped by Danny Green and Patty Mills attempted and missed a 3 pointer. Aldridge lost control after grabbing the air ball and Kawhi Leonard was unable to secure it before the buzzer sounded. In spite of the controversy, what matters most is that the Spurs lost just their second home game of the season and the series is now tied headed back to Oklahoma City.
Any time there is a controversial call or no call this late in a close game, people are going to be talking about it. It should have been an offensive foul and that sentiment was echoed by a referee after the game. They did not have a definitive answer of why it was not called except that “on the floor, we did not see a foul on the play.” Upon review, they admitted that a foul should have been called.
The bottom line though, is that San Antonio still had a shot at the end, but failed to score. It would’ve stung much worse if Durant had been fouled and hit two shots and then the Spurs had to rush an inbounds play in hopes of getting a shot at a tying 3. Champions don’t make excuses and you’ll hear none coming from this San Antonio team starting from the top on down. That’s just who they are and that’s why they’ve been so successful for so long.
They will regroup and come out stronger than before. Even with home court advantage, the Thunder better come out swinging or they could get knocked out of game 3 early on.
(Thunder Outlast San Antonio Spurs in Game 2)