The Oklahoma City Thunder decimated a team that had won their last 20 games to claim Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals by 20 points. OKC had their offensive charm on and they did everything that San Antonio did in Game 2, only a trillion times better. The Big Three of San Antonio had no answer to the Big Three of OKC as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden outclassed Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli with their fluency and sheer tenacity on the floor. In front of their home fans, the Oklahoma team were unstoppable and they dominated both halves to make it 2 - 1 in the Western Conference finals.
Oklahoma City Thunder had a surreal effort from their team as all 12 players featuring on the floor, found themselves adding to the team's 102 points on the night. Kevin Durant led the scoring with a game high 22 points. He also added 6 rebounds and 5 assists and while those numbers may seem humble with respect to the menace the point guard usually causes, his performance on the night was far from humble. The Scoring Champion of the regular season was red hot throughout game, dunking over one of the best defenders in the history of the league, Tim Duncan.
But the most inspiring performance came from guard Thabo Sefolosha, who added 19 points and had a ridiculous 6 steals for his team. Parker told reporters why this happened, "We wanted to slow down Durant and Westbrook and we gave him (Sefolosha) a lot of open looks and he hit shots."
The critical factor was Oklahoma's intensity on defence. They forced San Antonio to turn the ball 21 times while minimalising their own efforts on the court. They transformed their pressure on the backcourt into counterattacks very quickly as well with 18 points on the fast break.
Oklahoma coach Scott Brooks said, "We played great defense from the start, we had active hands, we challenged every possession. That's as good as you can play against the best team in basketball. They played better than us in the first two games and we played better than them tonight."
San Antonio didn't have their usual dominance in the paint and were outscored by their opponents by 20 points. Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan combined for less than 20 points which was a grave disappointment for San Antonio as the two players have been in good form in the post season. Tony Parker had 16 points, shooting 50% on the night. Stephen Jackson spent just 22 minutes on the floor but added 16 points as well to the Spurs scoreline, shooting a magnificent 6 of 7 from the field, with 4 of 5 coming from beyond the arc. Another rare performance came from Dejuan Blair, who scored 10 points in just 6 minutes on the floor.
The domineering performance from Oklahoma proved that this team has what it takes to go on to the NBA Finals and a victory in Game 4 is crucial for the ambitions to do so. Oklahoma didn't have a stellar individual performance but it was a stellar team performance from the team that made all the difference.
The dexterous Gregg Popovich spoke of this after the game, "They played very well, they played like it was a close-out game. They beat us good. We played much more poorly than we have and they played fantastically. I thought they played smarter than we did and harder than we did."
Spurs will need to battle like they have throughout the post season and the likes of Ginobli and Duncan will have to step it up to give their team a chance. Oklahoma are a rejuvenated side in their own back yard and one believes that they can pick up another win in Game 4. Big performances are expected on a big night in Oklahoma.