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List of Articles by Homer D. Sayson


 

NBA WEST FINALS - Manu Ginobili carries Spurs over Thunder in Game 1

By Homer D. Sayson
PhilBoxing.com
28 May 2012



THEY haven't lost a game since April 11, a winning streak spanning 19 games and 46 days.

And Saturday night at the AT&T Center, the San Antonio Spurs just kept on rolling.

In a roster deep in All-Star talent, Manu Ginobili shined the brightest.

The shifty lefty from Argentina dropped 11 of his season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter as the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a nine-point deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 101-98, and take Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

Down 71-62 entering the final frame, the No.1 seeded San Antonio quickly erased the deficit with a momentum-changing 11-2 run that knotted the count at 73-73 with still 7:56 to go.

As the tide turned, the Spurs pressed pedal to metal and relentlessly attacked the paint on the way to a devastating 18-3 blitz which was capped by a George Neal 3 that put the Spurs ahead 82-76 with only 5:05 left to play.

After being held to just 16 third quarter points, the Spurs bit back with a vengeance in the fourth, scoring 39 points on 12 of 16 shooting from the field. They also cranked up their defense, limiting the Thunder to 27 on 7-for-16 shooting and forcing four turnovers.

"It just happened. I don't know exactly how because I haven't scored like that all season long, but it happened and I am very happy about it," Ginobili told the Associated Press.

A two-time All-Star, the 34-year old Ginobili capped his magical night with five rebounds, three assists and a steal. He drained 9-of-14 field goals, 3-of-5 threes and all five of his free throws

But the Spurs needed more artillery beyond Manu to neutralize the No.2 seeded Thunder who entered the Western Conference Finals with an 8-1 playoffs record following impressive series wins over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and the always mighty Los Angeles Lakers.

TONY PARKER was the helm of the Spurs' second-half assault. He demolished the Thunder's interior defense with endless forays to the paint, creating shots for himself and his open teammates. The 10-year pro from France finished with 18 points and eight assists.

Never the type who shrinks from the big moments, Tim Duncan used Game 1 as another canvas with which to paint a masterpiece. The 7-foot center, a two-time league MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP, tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds, his 135th career postseason double-double.

George Neal added 12 points for San Antonio, which shot 38-of-83 field goals (45.8 percent) and 8-of-24 from beyond the 3-point arc (33.3 percent).

For three quarters, it seemed like the Thunder were too quick, too fast and too athletic for the veteran-ladden Spurs, who helped fuel Oklahoma's offense with 14 first half turnovers.

And for three quarters, it seemed like no defense can stop Kevin Durant, who made jumpshot after jumpshot and constantly putting the Spurs on their heels.

But the Spurs, who pounded the paint with 50 points, eventually wore down Oklahoma. And when the Spurs were making their breakaway in the fourth quarter, the Thunder looked tired and spent, unable to defend San Antonio's inside-out assault.

AFTER a torrid start, the Thunder finished the game shooting just 42.2 percent (35-of-83 field goals) including 9-of-23 threes. They sank 19 of 23 free throws but were outrebounded, 50-43, and had fewer assists 22-18.

Durant led the Thunder with 27 points and 10 rebounds, but his sidekick, Russell Westbrook, struggled with 17 points and missed 14 of 21 shots. James Harden, the other star in OKC's Big Three, missed nine of his first 12 shots before finishing with 19.

Game 2 of this best-of-7 West Finals is Tuesday night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. (Homer D. Sayson)


Back to Homer D. Sayson's Articles Listing



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