Loud City Statement: Thunder Demolishes Spurs, Evens Series At 2-2

Tuesday, May 27th 2014, 11:09 pm
By: News 9

The Spurs led 8-0. That was the final time they smiled all night.  

The Thunder played perhaps their best game of the season as they cruised to a dominant and convincing 105-92 win to take Game 4 and even the Western Conference Finals at 2-2.  

Oklahoma City overcame that 8-0 hole to seize a 26-20 lead after the first quarter.  The Thunder used an 8-0 run early in the second to extend their lead to 34-24, and the Spurs never quite recovered.  

OKC led 58-43 at the half and would extend that lead in the third.    

The Thunder exploded on a 14-1 run to take a 76-49 lead, turning a 14-point lead into a 27-point blowout.  Most of the remainder of the game was played with the San Antonio starters sitting on the bench as coach Gregg Popovich elected to rest his guys in preparation for a crucial Game 5.  

Thunder coach Scott Brooks utilized the same starting lineup from Game 3, inserting Reggie Jackson at the shooting guard and Serge Ibaka at the power forward spot. 

Ibaka finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks, but his impact went way beyond the box score.  He once again dominated the defensive end of the floor for OKC, intimidating and altering countless shot attempts.  

"Serge is a really good basketball player," Brooks said after the game.  "He's gotten better in a lot of areas. Defensively, we can change some things up, we can do what we do with Serge in the lineup that we can't do with other guys with his ability to block shots and alter shots."

Kevin Durant was also impressed by Ibaka's dominance.  

"He's versatile at guarding, he can guard 1 through 5 to be honest," Durant said. "He's long and athletic. We can use a lot of different lineups with Serge out there and play in different ways."

No matter which way the Thunder played, they succeeded.

Russell Westbrook was spectacular.  Offensively, Russ poured in 40 points while finding time to dish out 10 assists.  Defensively, he looked like the Tasmanian Devil, running around wildly wreaking havoc.  

Westbrook's 40 points sounds impressive enough, but when you compare that to what the entire Spurs' starting lineup produced (39 points), it's crazy. 

"Russell has energy to play back to backs on the same night," Brooks said of his superstar point guard.  

Caron Butler scored four points in 23 minutes off the Thunder bench, but was more interesting in talking about Westbrook afterward.  

"He's nothing short of amazing," Butler said. "He was unbelievable all night, the last two games, just being relentless on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. Just spectacular."

Durant also stepped up for the Thunder.  The NBA's MVP scored 31 points on 11-22 shooting as he and Westbrook once again proved too much for an opposing defense.   

San Antonio has now lost nine straight games in Oklahoma City.  This is the Spurs' longest streak under Popovich, dating back to the 1996-'97 season.  The Thunder has also won seven straight games against the Spurs with Ibaka in the lineup.  

Jackson left the game in the first quarter after rolling his ankle.  Jackson returned to the game later but appeared to be limping a bit.

"I was a little worried about Reggie," Brooks admitted.  "I liked Reggie coming back and trying to make an effort. It was a little too sore so we decided to rest him."

As far as his availability for Game 5, no word yet.  But Westbrook didn't seem too concerned.  

"He's a tough guy, tough fella," Westbrook said of Jackson. "I think he'll be ready to go next game."

The Thunder outscored San Antonio 21-0 in the fast break and held a 44-36 advantage in the paint. OKC blocked eight shots to the Spurs' two and snagged 12 steals to the Spurs' four.  Oklahoma City shot 48.7 percent from the floor while the Spurs were held to an uncharacteristic 39.8 percent.  

Game 5 is Thursday night in San Antonio.  Stick with news9.com/sports throughout the playoffs for daily Thunder updates, stories and news.