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September 1, 2014

Basketball — NBA

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spurs rout Thunder to take 3-2 lead

SAN ANTONIO — Back at home, this blowout went to the Spurs. San Antonio took a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals with a 117-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. Now they can clinch their return to the NBA Finals on the road, where they are the ones taking the beatings.

“This is the craziest series I’ve ever been involved in,” said Tim Duncan, who had 22 points and 12 rebounds.

The Jekyll-and-Hyde series continued between the past two Western Conference champions, as the road team has been thumped in every game so far. Game Six is today in Oklahoma City.

“I have no clue, honestly,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the disparity. “I think every game, it’s a different animal. It really is. We talk to our team about that all the time. You have no clue what’s going to happen, how a team is going to come out, whether they’re going to be lethargic or hold the ball, get 50/50 balls or don’t get 50/50 balls.”

Kevin Durant scored 25 points, but Russell Westbrook had only 21 points and seven assists after finishing with 40 points and 10 assists in Game Four.

Emanuel Ginóbili scored 19 points, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green each had 14 and Boris Diaw added 13 for the Spurs, who are a win away from returning to the NBA Finals after losing in seven games to Miami last year.

The Spurs returned to the style of play that enabled them to win the series’ first two games by a combined 52 points.

“We gave them everything they wanted,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “They got the dribble drive, they got the three-point line, and they got to the free-throw line.”

The Spurs were also 13 for 26 on three-pointers and out-rebounded the Thunder 48-35. San Antonio also limited Oklahoma City to four fast-break points after giving up 21 in Game Four.

After losing twice in Oklahoma City by an average of 11 points, San Antonio upped its average winning margin in San Antonio above 26 points.

Oklahoma City had just 34 points in the second half after scoring 32 in the first quarter.

“Our shots weren’t falling for us,” Durant said. “We’ve got to stay aggressive and we’ve got to get stops. When we can’t make a shot, we’ve got to play defence, and we didn’t tonight.”

San Antonio outscored Oklahoma City by 10 points in both the second and third quarters, allowing both teams to sit their starters for much of the fourth.

AP

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