Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Rolling Thunder put Spurs' season on the brink

Published:Wednesday | June 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM

SAN ANTONIO (AP):Kevin Durant and the surging Oklahoma City Thunder are just one victory from the NBA finals.

"We never just thought we were supposed to wait our turn," the 23-year-old Thunder star said following the biggest road win of his career on Monday night.

What little wait they've had could end today.

That's when the Thunder can finish off the San Antonio Spurs back home in Oklahoma City - where they're unbeaten in these playoffs - and complete a remarkable turnaround in the Western Conference finals after starting in a 0-2 hole and up against a 20-game Spurs winning streak that ranks among the longest in NBA history.

But look who's unstoppable now.

Durant scored 27 points and the Thunder beat the Spurs 108-103 in Game Five, moving within a victory of a series knockout and the conference title after beating San Antonio for the third time in five days.

"We came here, we wanted to get a win on their home floor," Durant said. "That's what it took for us to advance or to get to where we wanted to go."

Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Thunder took a 3-2 lead in a wildly entertaining series. Looking invincible while carrying a 20-game winning streak a week ago - the fourth-longest in NBA history - the Spurs have lost three straight and are on the verge of a stunning collapse.

smashing return

Manu Ginobili scored 34 in a smashing return to the starting lineup and the switch showed just how much Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knew his team might be in trouble. The only way the Spurs would have considered the move a success is if they had they won and that chance went clanging off the back of the rim with 4.9 seconds left when Ginobili missed an off-balance three.

Ginobili then walked to the scorer's table, made a fist and hammered it down.

"It wasn't a great shot, but it wasn't a bad one," Ginobili said. "It just didn't go in."

It was the Spurs' first loss at home since April 11.

Popovich said he removed Danny Green from the starting lineup and plugged in Ginobili - who had started only seven previous times this season - to give the Spurs "an energy boost". But that didn't solve a third straight uneven game for the Spurs, particularly another languid second quarter that put them in a 14-point hole.

"If we don't get that straight," Popovich said, "it'll be over on Wednesday."

Ginobili finished 11 of 21 and made half of his 10 three-point attempts. But with the game, and arguably San Antonio's season, on the line, his last one didn't connect.

"It's either win or go home," Ginobili said. "It's our job. Nobody is going to feel sorry about ourselves."