Cumberland Times-News

Basketball

May 25, 2014

Thunder beat Spurs 106-97, cut deficit to 2-1

Ibaka's return helps OKC handle San Antonio

OKLAHOMA CITY — Serge Ibaka scored 15 points in a dramatic return from what was thought to be a season-ending left calf strain to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-97 on Sunday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
Russell Westbrook had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds to help the Thunder cut the Spurs’ lead in the series to 2-1.
Ibaka started after missing the first two games of the series. The Thunder had said he likely would miss the rest of the playoffs, but the team changed course Friday. 
“Obviously Serge came in and gave us a big lift not only on the defensive end but the offensive end,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Manu Ginobili scored 23 points and Tim Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs.
Game 4 is Tuesday night at Oklahoma City.
Ibaka, who also had seven rebounds and four blocks, pointed to the sky as he left the game to cheers with 3:17 remaining and the Thunder ahead by 20 points.  
The Thunder outrebounded the Spurs 52-36 after losing the battle of the boards in the first two games. San Antonio, which shot at least 50 percent in the first two games, shot just 40 percent on Sunday night. 
“I was very disappointed that we didn’t come out with more of a foot in the neck sort of attitude,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They killed us on the boards, they beat us in 50-50 balls and that’s very disappointing to me.” 
San Antonio won the first two games by a combined 52 points, but things were different from the start with Ibaka’s return. Brooks also inserted speedy Reggie Jackson into the starting lineup in Thabo Sefolosha’s place. Jackson finished with 15 points.
“We bounced back tonight. We always talk about that bounce-back ability and we had that tonight,” Brooks said.

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