Spurs’ effort no laughing matter

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Inside crew talks about adjustments the Spurs have to make in Game 4

OKLAHOMA CITY — In the fading minutes of the fourth quarter, with the game as out of reach as the moon, there was Manu Ginobili making his way gingerly toward the locker room while carrying a shoe in one hand.

Anything to be worried about there?

“He’ll be fine or he’s out for the playoffs,” cracked Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “You’ve still got to have some fun even if you lose. Come on, it’s basketball. Yeah, we wanted to win, but I want to laugh too.”

In the laugh-to-keep-from-crying department, it might as well have been open mic night at the Improv with the Spurs having more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

That is, if your taste runs for toward the insult humor of Don Rickles, Andrew Dice Clay and Ricky Gervais.

The Spurs were hilariously ineffective defensively, hysterically inept rebounding and farcical in the pursuit of loose balls.

It will be a night remembered for the return of Serge Ibaka to the lineup nine days after a calf injury had the Thunder organization all but putting him on life support.

A Power Serge, they’ll call it.

The pogo stick power forward gave OKC immediate life with his jumper, his long arms that contested shots and his joyous zeal for controlling the middle.

With Ibaka back on the floor covering the paint like a drop cloth, suddenly the path to the basket was no longer a revolving door for the likes of Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

In fact, the only Spur who acquitted himself at all was the limping Ginobili, who scored 23 points and said there should be no concern over sore foot that’s been nagging him for a while.

Ibaka gave the usually raucous crowd at Chesapeake Arena a reason to crank the volume up to 11, emboldened his teammates to be more aggressive and take more chances on the perimeter and, well, he did go 6-of-7 from the field, too.

What Ibaka did not provide was an excuse for the Spurs to be lifeless as much as helpless, seemingly disinterested as much as discombobulated.

After thumping the Thunder by 17 and 35 in the first two games of the series, the Spurs might have seen the short flight to OKC as a waste of their time and they played like it.

“I was very disappointed that we didn’t come out with more of a foot-on-the-neck sort of attitude,” Popovich said. “They killed us on the boards, they beat us on 50/50 balls, and that’s very disappointing to me. That’s not the way you approach a game.”

It shockingly bordered on unprofessional from a Spurs team that usually plays like it’s wearing a crisp white shirt and tie.

It began with Parker, the point guard/ignition switch who neither got into the middle to cause havoc with his scoring and passing, nor could find the range on his outside shot. Tim Duncan was tepid. Leonard was passive and Green — fresh off nailing seven 3-pointers in Game 2 — seemed lost.

When the Thunder missed a shot, they simply went and got the ball back off the glass, owning the backboards by a 52-36 margin and owning every area of the game. The Spurs had their worst shooting game of the playoffs — 36-for-91 — and a horrid second quarter in which they turned the ball over five times, allowing OKC to take control of the game.

The Spurs have lost eight consecutive games in OKC. They were so unsure and unable to attack the basket with Ibaka back in the lineup that they were practically doubled up in free throws — 31-16 — by the Thunder.

A listener outside the locker room door — or perhaps a resident of Nebraska — could easily hear Popovich on a paint-peeling, ceiling-rattling six-to-eight minute postgame tirade.

“No different,” Parker said. “He usually tells us what he thinks.”

What many will start to think now is back to the last time the two teams met in 2012, when the Spurs rolled into OKC with a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals and an overall 20-game winning streak and then found themselves out of the playoffs eight days later after four straight losses.

“No, no,” said Parker. “That’s a different year. That’s a different team. What we have to do is come out and play better.”

What they have to do is come out and play. Period.

“Look, you can spin it or twist it any way that you want,” Duncan said. “They just beat us.”

That too. No joke.

72 Comments

  1. Annie M. says:

    Yeah it almost seems like Ibaka ‘ s big “comeback” was a total sham! Is he “really” injured? Doubtful!
    Doesn’t matter anyway, Spurs WILL WIN TONIGHT! GO SPURS GO! !

  2. Michail says:

    The strange thing is officiating was more to the Spurs and we lost. The first 2 games I was screaming at the horrible calls but we got the last night and didn’t use them. That being said, if you miss four open 3s (Diaw and Leonard), don’t rebound and box out (guards), or told on to the ball you will lose. The good news is we did everything wrong and OKC was amped but they only won by 10. If two of those open 3s go in the game is different. We will win tonight

  3. Bagel says:

    As a Spurs fan, I actually think the ref foul calls were balanced in Game 3. If you will recall how many calls went against the Thunder in the first half, you’ll remember that Kendrick Perkins received his first and second fouls in a matter of 2 minutes in the first quarter with his third coming in the second quarter. In addition, Reggie Jackson was called for a travel sometime in the first half when he slid in the paint and was hoping a foul would be called against the Spurs but the refs knew it was his fault for falling. And finally, Perkins received his 4th foul when the 3rd quarter started and had to sit for pretty much that whole quarter. While I disagree that that Patty Mills 3-pointer should not have been called a foul, I do agree with the officiating crew that Steven Adams’ fall onto Duncan’s back was completely by accident and the ball had already become loose. Spurs fans, ya’ll need to realize that just because we got some bad calls in the second half doesn’t mean you should overlook how many calls the Thunder received in the first half (especially against Perkins).

  4. JR says:

    IT DONT MATTER WHO WIN LEBRON, D-WADE, BOSH, BIRDMAN & THE ONE & ONLY RAY RAY WILL DEMOLISH EITHER TEAM & SHOW ALL YOU HEAT HATERS LAST YEAR WAS NOT A FLUKE THESE BOYS FLAT OUT GOOD WHETHER YOU MF’S LIKE IT OR NOT EAT LEBRON SHORTS LMAO

  5. Shut up FranB says:

    The reason why Ibaka can score easily and get rebounds easily is the Spurs don’t want to further hurt a injured player. I have watched the game and the spurs player hardly touch Ibaka. No bumping in pick-and-roll, no hard defense. No hard box out. The spurs players could not play like their way they were and mess up their rhythm.

    It is a dirty win for Scott Brook. Playing a seriously injured player on the court and cause the spurs could not play 100%. This is disgusting. A player with a Grade 2 tear in his leg is a serious injury and can never be recovered in so little time. Ibaka can easily have a complete tear and destroy his own career. His act is noble but his coach should not allow it to happen. So enjoy this win! This will be your last!

  6. Carlo says:

    Ok now… Spurs lost just ’cause I had no time to watch the game and I don’t want to miss one single good game.
    They did it for me. A simple as that.
    Now, back to work.

  7. Mike says:

    If you don’t win your first game back at home then you simply don’t deserve to be in the conference finals… like Indiana.

  8. spursfan says:

    these poeple reacting and commenting to the no calls in game 3 are not true spurs fans.
    these are pare persons who deliberately hate lebron.

    and to the bron2x fans, hello there fanboys who wishes okc to win so that the heat will have
    an easy Finals once again and to 3peat.

  9. young d says:

    i dont understand why the refs keep making okc win every game they have won since the clippers series has been because of the refs….

  10. Big Al says:

    The refs made this game awful. Diaw hitting Fisher’s head causing it to bleed wasn’t a foul. Adams going down on Duncan wasn’t a foul. Leonard’s dunk that took more steps than allowed wasn’t a travel. But a simple Perkins screen was a foul. Westbrook’s genuine drive to the basket was a charge. Durant’s clean block on that dud Baynes was a foul. The efforts from both teams are being unnecessarily negated by stupid calls and non-calls.

  11. Manuel says:

    He should took some of the blame too. Ginobili was the hotter player for the Spurs, but still he didn’t get in the game in the 3rd quarter until the 6 minute mark. ABSURD! Bad substitution was the dagger for the Spurs last year during the 6th game against the Heat.

  12. Gordel48 says:

    The only team is match for spurs is Miami heat… No question about it…

  13. okcDoke2014 says:

    Serge ability return in such a short time is amazing ! New respect for him as a team first guy

  14. Mleh says:

    Spurs were simply stolen by the refs

  15. Yusa says:

    The refs are just simply laughable, Yes OKC stepped up and Yes Spurs had a bad game especially on offense. But the refs made the gap bigger that could been an exciting 4th. Timmy has been sat and Patty Mills could have shift the momentum with that “laughable” offensive foul called and more bad calls. I hope I can see a decent 4th quarter in this series.

  16. AE says:

    The officiating in Game 3 obviously favored OKC because the league did not want this “blockbuster series” to end in a sweep. The Spurs were victims of circumstance having blown out the “MVP” and his team the first two games. Another obvious factor is that Ibaka’s injury was purposely misdiagnosed to “hype up” the Thunder. The Spurs will take better care of the ball and will get back to playing Spurs basketball.

  17. Gerhard says:

    It is a fact that san antonio played terrible but this game was stolen by the refs. 22 ft in the third quarter, an offensive foul called on mills when he drained a the 3 pointer and no foul on adams when he took a ride on duncan. I wonder if any team in the league can win that way. The game was pretty even after halftime, even with parker playing the worst game of the playoffs. I hope the spurs destroy okc in game 4 and that the nba dont do anything to to arrangenthe game.

  18. martin says:

    Randolph out in game 7… Doping for Ibaka… ?¿ Nba wants a final lebron vs durant…

  19. typpercat says:

    A rookie jumps on a veterans back and no foul is called. Pitiful Adams fouled Duncan so much but Duncan is so fundamental good the refs didn’t call. Westbrook farted and a foul was called against the Spurs. Let’s review and make it more even.

  20. okcDoke2014 says:

    Spurs lack of D in first 3 quarters and Serge return made a difference. Game 4 will be tighter and teams ability to win on home court in playoffs will decide series

  21. Scott C says:

    the Patty Mills foul was the kicker and led to a 6 point swing on a ridiculous call…. I imagine the NBA is reviewing a few of the calls from last nite….. quote Ibaka “Look, I’m ridin a Duncan, I’m ridin a Duncan!!!”…. no worries, OKC wanted the game more and played better on the boards, Game 4 will be a dog fight!

  22. KDfan says:

    1. Yesterday our Thunder played with great spirit infused by the return of Serge.
    2. Tomorrow can we move forward with the more adrenaline and teamwork?
    3. SAS will be more than prepared for Game 4 and will give it their all.
    4. Can we, The Thunder, handle that pressure and play with poise, more physicality and a clear vision to get one more victory at home?
    5. Let’s Go Thunder!

    • Donovan says:

      I am a Spurs fan, and I have much respect for OKC except for Westbrook. He is talented, yeah, but his bossiness, arrogance and boastfulness get into my nerves (no respect even for his teammates including Durant). For the Spurs, win or lose! SOMETIMES they lose, MOST OF THE TIME they win. That’s just it.

  23. prahumac says:

    its spur’s vs heat and that’s for sure!!!!!!!

  24. okc2014 says:

    Spurs Spans don’t seem amused this morning. I myself am quite tickled…………Power Serge is correct! How do you like those apples Spurs fans? OKC2014.

    • 37yrfan says:

      …poison apples……”power surge”……laughable sound bite……lmao……PS: what was supposedly injured guy doing in the game at the end with the Spurs starters on the bench….when he had gone into the locker room during the game and came right back on the floor??……….. interesting, man they got some “special” medical folks up there in okieland……..

  25. Julio says:

    grade 2 injury and he plays less than 2 weeks before? could someone ask for a a dopping test, please?

  26. Julio says:

    It was clearly a game for the OKC to win. They need to sell the MVP’s shirt. Popovich knows that, but i hope it stops by that. They made some extra money with that hilarious victory for the Thunder. But i hope, for the healthy of the league, they stop helping OKC that much. Good times when MVPs were not only good players, but guys that brings money for the league naturally and had no lack of charisma like LeBron James or even Kevin Durant… The Magic’s smile needed no help from the referees….

    • okckd35 says:

      What part was hilarious? The fact that OKC beat them in every aspect of the game? That they cant score 60 in the paint with Ibaka playing? That we no longer have to double in the paint then try to close out on the 3 point shot? The fact that 1 player can change the entire way your team is able to attack them? It is pretty funny.

      • 37yrfan says:

        ….well ….look who’s back…….didn’t see ANY posts after the first two games??? Don’t post after loses…… surge Got that tail out from between your legs now former sonics fan??? Hope you all enjoyed your sergio game…….the fact that one player can make two other shooters shoot better is Amazing……..lol……. one game doesn’t make a series …. remember it is said that the series starts when you win on the road……. good luck with the next few games….now the thunder only has to win 3 out of 4………..

      • 37yrfan says:

        ….”losses”

      • Julio says:

        Hilarious is the 18 free throws OKC had in the 3rd quarter comming from a head-to-head end of 2nd. And i like how ?Ibaka can stand in the paint defending the rim as long as he wants with no 3 seconds call at all. and the way Westbrook runs over the defenders and uses his arm to push and its always foul to give him some chances to score and make him feel the best in the world. That’s why.

  27. T.Monk says:

    As a Spurs fan, I can only aggree with the article, mostly in one point: there was no enough effort.
    Sometimes, when you are 10-15 points down, and you start recovering, 2 or 3 ofensive rebounds fro the other team can kill you.
    And OKC was getting offensive rebounds every minute. Some of them without even having to jump.
    Easy games 1 and 2 are over, now you have to work harder to get the wins. I´m sure Popovich will get the team to it again.

  28. Trent Isaac says:

    I understand hype is part of sports writing. That’s one of its aspects I enjoy. However, this article is laughable. [Full Disclosure: I like both the Spurs and OKC (I'm a Rockets fan), but I am hoping that the Spurs win this series.] In a must-win game, at their notoriously energetic home stadium, with their defensive star returning to the lineup, Oklahoma has the motive to win. This article seemed to think that the Spurs team disintegrated during this game. They did not. 9 points is 9 points. Yes, it was a tough game for the Spurs. Yes, they made mistakes (you have to to lose a game).

    A historical flashback of the 2012 series was in order, but it was not accurately presented in this article. James Harden, winner of the 6th Man award that year, was part of the bench the year OKC beat the Spurs. I use this fact as an example. There are substantial differences between this year’s series and the 2012 series.

    This article also fails to ask the obvious question: will Ibaka continue to be able to play as many minutes as he did last night with his injury?

    • okckd35 says:

      9 points was the final. Starters were pulled with a 20 point lead. The backups backups are what cut it to 9. Pop waved the white flag while down much further

      • 37yrfan says:

        ….and what was surge doin’ playin late into the fourth with the game wrapped up??? And with ALL the EXTRA energy in your energy arena ……That is ALL they could muster…… a 20 point lead they couldn’t keep……dropped to 9 with backups in the game…… game was much worse than the final score…… AND the next game there is no ‘surge’ magic to draw on….. next game better be the BEST game the thunder play all year….or else it is 3-1…………… do you really think(not as a fan) that the thunder will win 3 of 4???

  29. Antawn says:

    Its game 3 on OKC’s home court, they should win it, Ibaka was a factor, but I bet the Spurs will come out winning the West.

  30. Silver says:

    Mr. Blinebury, I hope you would do a better job on your articles.
    I can’t believe this was on the headline in the website’s page.
    Take this as a constructive criticism.

  31. Bill Buchholtz says:

    How can OKC’s Steven Adams jump up and land on Tim Duncan’s back without a foul being called?

    • okckd35 says:

      Reggie miller said it. By the time contact was made the ball was already loose and that it was incidental contact and a good no call. If we want to nit pick how did derek fisher cut his head to the point of 6 stitches with no call? Quit crying about the refs. U do realize ft’s were lopsided for the spurs in game 2 right?

      • 37yrfan says:

        thee biggest whiner can’t tell other fans to ‘stop cryin’….. that is the pot callin the kettle black……lol….lol

  32. Michael says:

    Sure, the Spurs played poorly, but the officials certainly helped OKC. The free throw disparity was laughable. Patty Mills was called for an offensive foul as he simultaneously nailed a 3 pointer, which was waved off. If Durant had been shooting, it would have been a 4-point play. Adams literally jumped onto Tim Duncan’s back and sat on him, but was not called for a foul. Let’s hope the officiating is a bit more balanced in game 4.

    • okckd35 says:

      Lol complaining about the refs making the correct call when mills clearly stuck his leg out and tripped durant. Whats next?

      • 37yrfan says:

        Mills came down after an off balanced 3 like EVERY other 3pt shooter…… watch ray allen or even your Durant(does it all the time—next game….just watch) ….they are happy to come down and not lose their balance…..just a joke of a call…. “clearly stuck his foot out”……what a joke….”clearly”….lol……….. and again, if the situation were reversed okiedokie35 would be the FIRST to complain…… personally if the situation was reversed I would have called it a lame foul…… just sayin…..but hey, thunder needed ALL of the help they could get(and they got it)
        ……….ALL of the advantage with the surge of serge and only a 9 point victory with the number of foul shots awarded the team…….. well just know that thunder had their game and next game won’t look the same……PS: This game was not won OR lost because of the calls……. it was a poor game by Parker and Leonard (2 starters not in double figures—unacceptable) and a great game by the thunder (AND they were awarded waaaaaayyy to many free throws) ……….. CONGRATS ……. can’t wait for Tuesday night…….

  33. Alfredo says:

    22 free throws in the 3rd quarter for the thunder and the spurs get none that was the real x-factor in this game.

  34. MK360 says:

    Spurs will prevail. Nothing can stop us. Danny Green must repeat his 3-pt rain and everything will be ok.

  35. aura says:

    Thunder only win because they had more FT than the spurs.

  36. Mike says:

    This may be the worst article I’ve ever read on this site.

    “In the laugh-to-keep-from-crying department, it might as well have been open mic night at the Improv with the Spurs having more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
    That is, if your taste runs for toward the insult humor of Don Rickles, Andrew Dice Clay and Ricky Gervais.
    The Spurs were hilariously ineffective defensively, hysterically inept rebounding and farcical in the pursuit of loose balls.”

    Really? The Spurs lost by 9 to an outstanding team on its home floor and are still up 2-1 in the series. This kind of hyperbole from a 5’4″, All-Pudge point guard like Blinebury is meaningless. Extreme viewpoints get “views” and sports writers get away with bad writing often, but the combination of both–and the author’s complete inability to discuss anything other than qualitative “X factors”–make this a complete waste of time.

  37. jake s. says:

    It’s going to 7.

  38. josh says:

    No, the spurs weren’t at their best. The freaking whistles disrupted their rhythm.
    For heavens sake, it 28 vs 7 free throws attempted before the refs decided to compensate so that it wouldn’t look so obvious.

    • okckd35 says:

      Awww. Its funny I havent seen okc fans crying about FT’s in the first 2 games. But as soon as the spurs lose its because of the free throws. Not that they got out hustled, out rebounded, and outplayed. Its because of the terrible refs that called one more foul on OKC than they did on the Spurs. For being one of the teams that get called for the fewest fouls crying about foul calls

    • okckd35 says:

      Spurs were +13 Ft (23-10) in game 2 OKC was + 15 (31-16) in game 3. Thats 2FT (one call) difference. But u were ok with the advantage in game 2. Typical.

      • 37yrfan says:

        you are laugh out loud funny(and hypocritical) okiedokie…..but that is par for the course for such ‘new’ fans of the pro game

  39. REALLLLLLYYYY says:

    THE LEAD WAS 17 AT SOME POINT SOU WHAT LOLL , THE FACT THE SPURS SHOOT BAD ,DONT REB ,DINT DEFENSE WELL , THE FACT THE LOSES BE 9 IN SUCH A BAD GM FOR THEM , IS SCARY FOR OKC ,WILL THE SPURS ALLOW PLAYING THAT BAD 3 TIMES MORE IN THIS SERIES ? COULD HAPPEN BUT WILL HAPPEN ? DNT THINK SOU , BESIDE OKC PLAY GREAT TONIGHT YESS THEY HAVE TO IBAKA BACK THEY AT HOME GO DOWN 3-0 UMMM I THINK THAT A GREAT FORMULA BUT CAN THEY DO IT 3MORE TIME ??? BIG QUESTION

  40. Gwal says:

    All I can say is Spurs vs Heat 2

  41. dunjav2013 says:

    Reblogged this on dunjav.

  42. nba fan says:

    its so boring if u will always win, but dont expect thunder will win the series…

  43. Nick says:

    What a bunch of bs. I missed the game, but after hearing all the hype about Ibaka’s return I expected a rout – you know like what the Spurs did to OKC the previous two games. Then I see that OKC won by only nine points and read about how badly the Spurs played?! If I were an OKC fan I’d be worried!

  44. letsbereal says:

    Pop is joking because he’s not worried at all this time. He wants his Spurs to feel challenged like they were against Dallas. The odds are the Spurs will win it all this year. And then Duncan and possibly Ginobli retire. Once they do, the road is open for OKC to get back to the Finals. I hope OKC wins game 4 so we get a series that goes all the way, but at worst for the Spurs they’ll still protect home court. What a fantastic effort by Ibaka today. At the very least I hope Brooks doesn’t have to worry about his job now.

    • I like your comment, its true to the fact.

    • 37yrfan says:

      ….Should never have had to worry about it……his coaching had nothing to do with the losses in SA……

      • Mike says:

        I don’t want a series. I want a slaughter. I want the Spurs to smash the Thunder and leave nobody with any doubt as to what team is the best in the west. I want the Spurs to get back to their old ways, put OKC’s lights out, and eat chips and dip while watching the Heat and Pacers fumble their way through the most painfully boring series of the post-season.