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Thunder even Western Conference finals with Game 4 win over Spurs

Jun 2, 2012, 11:59 PM EDT

ibaka-game-4

The reason that home-court advantage makes a difference in the NBA postseason is because of the fact that the role-players, bench guys, or simply lesser-known producers tend to play above their average capabilities with the home crowd behind them.

That was certainly the case in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder got big-time performances from some unlikely sources to notch their second straight win, while evening the series at two games apiece with a 109-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

The Thunder won this game not because of the heroics of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, or James Harden, but because of other-worldly performances from Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, and Nick Collison.

Ibaka finished with 26 points on 11-of-11 shooting and was just one more made basket from tying the NBA playoff record for most made field goals without a miss. OKC moved the ball the way the Spurs had the first two games of the series, and everyone who ended up with the opportunity seemed to be able to make the Spurs pay.

Kendrick Perkins came out uncharacteristically aggressive on the offensive end and had nine points and six rebounds in less than 10 first-quarter minutes to spark his team. Perkins finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and Collison was solid with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s a combined 22-of-25 shooting from Ibaka, Perkins and Collison. And that’s before we even begin to talk about what Durant did while taking over offensively in the fourth quarter.

Durant did virtually nothing offensively in the first half. He had eight points at the break; he wasn’t looking for his shot, and his teammates weren’t looking for him, either. But he got going with 10 points in the third, before taking things over completely in the fourth, scoring 16 straight points for his team during a stretch where they absolutely needed a reliable threat as the Spurs came back from 15 down to once again make it a contest.

Durant finished with a game-high 36 points on a night when Westbrook and Harden combined for just 18 points on 6-of-23 shooting.

The Spurs jumped out to a lead early, and rallied late to cut a 15-point lead down to two late in the third quarter. But the efficiency of their offense that we saw from them in the first two games of this series is long gone, with the buckets coming more and more off of dribble penetration or isolation plays rather than more fluid passing leading to open shots out of predetermined sets.

The Thunder aren’t likely to get 41 combined points from Ibaka and Perkins again in this series, and Tony Parker‘s 5-of-15 shooting seems like an aberration, as well. As the series shifts back to San Antonio, the Spurs will need to rediscover their execution on offense, while the Thunder will need to do what they do in making sure that their best weapons offensively are the ones who are getting the ball in positions to make the open shots.

With all of that being said, both teams know what they need to do at this point in the series. Game 5 will be an absolute war, and the team that’s able to impose their will offensively will be the one that ends up with the chance to close things out in Game 6.

  1. 69jaredallen69 - Jun 3, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    Durant is a bad bad man!

  2. itsmammoth - Jun 3, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    What an amazing series! :)

  3. bleedgreen4life - Jun 3, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    Never doubt a team that has Kevin Durant playing for them.

    • mytthor - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      I mean he’s the best scorer in the league, but it’s hard to pull the “never doubt this team” card when they haven’t even been to the finals yet.

  4. funktron2x - Jun 3, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    This is becoming a classic, fantastic WCF. I can’t wait for Monday night. Whoa nelly.

  5. rodfromdh - Jun 3, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    What happened 2 high IQ ? No one is petaling that BS now ! We had all of these intellect experts predicting sweeps because of the Spurs so called high basketball IQ . Opposed to what remedial basketball IQ ? These inferences are easily decodable and I know what commentators and radio sports personalities are selling .

  6. borderline1988 - Jun 3, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Durant was unbelievable in the 4th, although the Spurs should have done a better job defending him.

    They have to force Durant left…he usually is more predictable and pulls up for jumpers more often..when he goes to the right, he’s unstoppable because he can shoot, play the midrange, or go all the way to the basket with ruthless efficiency.
    Or they should have doubled him, kept a man on Harden, and forced the ball to Ibaka or Westbrook. I don’t care that Ibaka scored 11 for 11…you would rather want the ball in his hands than in Durant’s in the 4th..

    The Spurs shouldn’t be deterred…they played much better than in Game 3. The Thunder’s frontcourt won’t have a game like that again. As well, lost in this was that the Thunder couldn’t stop the Spurs from scoring…The Spurs scored at will in the 2nd half and especially in the 4th quarter, from all over the court. Their ball movement was giving them clean looks from the 3pt line, drives to the basket, foul line jumpers for Durant, floaters, etc.

  7. trueballs - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    That kid is amazing. Shoots right over the top of you. He’s not nearly the defender LBJ is, but being 6’11 with long arms makes up for that.

  8. mungman69 - Jun 3, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Looks like one great game 5 coming.

  9. 11jlacy - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    K D aka(iceman 2000) this cat is the man best player in nba no joke!!!!!!

  10. 11jlacy - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    I bet u portland like man we messed up again(oden not kd)(bowie not mj) we just cant get right.

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