SAN ANTONIO – The trailer, Tim Duncan, cutting down the lane and taking the pass from Tony Parker for a layup. Boris Diaw whipping the ball to a wide-open Danny Green for a 3-pointer. On and on. Diaw, not exactly a threat to win the Olympic 100, dribbling past Serge Ibaka, the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, for a reverse layup.
Again: Diaw on roller skates around Ibaka.
Before we pause to consider the victory speech Matt Bonner will use after winning the next dunk contest, there is the pressing matter of the Spurs getting wherever they wanted on the court Tuesday night. They found seams in the Thunder defense with such ease that it elevates the conversation about San Antonio’s offense clicking just when it seemed no more exclamations about that were possible.
The Spurs ran a clinic at AT&T Center, their offense nothing short of perfectly synchronized en route to a 120-111 victory and what is likely an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final. All credit to the men driving the machine. But the Thunder seemed so befuddled on defense, especially in the third quarter that turned the game and the series for good, that for a time it became an embarrassing lack of effort.
The way they didn’t challenge several 3-pointers, the way San Antonio flowed through the lane, it is hard to remember a time the Thunder looked so out of place and so defeated. Oklahoma City allowed 96.9 points in the regular season and 92.8 the first 10 playoff games. The Spurs had 92 at the end of the third period.
“They were making shots,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I mean, they were spraying them all over the floor and knocking them in. I thought (Kawhi) Leonard was making the shots. (Manu) Ginobili made a lot of tough shots tonight. (Tony) Parker was on fire … I like the guys’ mental toughness. It’s one of the things we’re good at. We are young, but that’s not an excuse. We play hard. I knew we were going to keep playing for 48 minutes. We got down 22 points. That’s not good. But we still came back and fought.”
The Spurs were slowed all the way down to 43.5 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, allowing the Thunder to mount a late rally that closed the deficit to 99-93 with 5:40 remaining. But San Antonio still finished the night at 55.1 percent with 27 assists and 120 points.