I don't think this is what Gregg Popovich meant when he said he wanted some nasty.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: After the Spurs imposed their will on the Thunder in Game 1 -- especially over the final 12 minutes -- Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks was shelled by bloggers and media experts for not giving Serge Ibaka enough fourth quarter burn. Well, Serge logged a fat 39 minutes last night, and the Thunder looked even more helplessly overmatched by a Spurs team that apparently has no flaws. Unless you count Tiago Splitter's haircut. And you should.
Despite Tim Duncan's off shooting night (2-for-11 from the field), the Spurs converted 55.1 percent of their field goal attempts and finished with 120 points despite bricking 12 free throws and committing 18 turnovers. Remember: In one of those Mic'd up segments in Game 1, Brook screamed at his troops: "We're a defensive team." I wonder what he said after rookie Kawhi Leonard lit 'em up for 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Of course, the Thunder finished the regular season ranked 11th in Defensive Rating and currently rank ninth out of 16 playoff teams. So I'm not sure they're really the "defensive team" Brooks seems to think they are.
Speaking of Brooks, he unveiled the Hack-a-Splitter strategy with 2:31 left in the third quarter and the Thunder trailing 83-66. After about a grueling minute of that "action," Splitter had gone 5-for-10 from the line and OKC was down 88-72. Which was...good...I guess. They made up one point of their deficit anyway.
According to Brooks, though, he was just trying to change the pace of the game: "It changed the tempo a little bit. They (the Spurs) were fast tonight. That ball was just all over the floor with quick passes, passes that were right in their shooting pockets, and it kind of threw their rhythm out a little bit. He stepped up and made six of them (including another trip to the line that was not away from the ball). He did better than his playoff percentage. But if on occasion we have an opportunity to do it again, we will."
Reggie Miller, quote machine: "This is a surgical clinic by Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs."
Bonus stat: The Thunder had been giving up an average of 92.9 PPG in the playoffs. The Spurs had 92 at the end of the third quarter.
Gregg Popovich, quote machine: Regarding the Hack-a-Splitter plan: "No, I’ve never done that before. I think it's a lousy thing to do. It's unsportsmanlike."
Pop then added: "No, it's a a good move. If there's a reason to do it and they felt there was a reason to do it, they did it. It's a good move."
Serge Ibaka, poster boy: Tim Duncan says: STUFF THIS, IBAKA.
I guess Timmy gave Pop what he wanted.
Kendrick Perkins: Yikes. 3 points, 1-for-5, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers, 3 fouls, and a game-worst plus-minus of -14 in 24 minutes. Sam Smith of Bulls.com recently called Perkins a "fraud," and I'm starting to think he may have a point.
Charles Barkley, quote machine: "I gotta call out my boy Scott Brooks tonight. It took him over three quarters to see you can't play those two big guys [Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka] together."
Derek Fisher: Remember how he almost saved the Thunder in Game 1 with his near-perfect shooting? I guess he used up all his makes, because last night he went 2-for-11, including 0-for-6 inside the arc. Oddly, he had a team-best plus-minus score of +9. Must be all the veteran savvy.
Russell Westbrook: His line looked pretty strong -- 27 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 0 turnovers -- but Tony Parker (game-high 34 points on 16-for-21 shooting plus 8 dimes) made Westbrook his bitch. How on fire was TP? According to Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News:
Tony Parker had a shooting game for the ages Tuesday night.
It didn't matter where he was aiming from.
He hit 5 of 6 shots from inside 10 feet, misfiring only on a twisting first-quarter layup. He was 7 for 9 from 10 to 20 feet. And he hit 4 of 6 from 20 feet and beyond to finish off a 34-point effort that was the biggest playoff scoring binge by a Spurs player since his 43-point effort against Dallas in 2009.
Parker's 16-for-21 shooting effort Tuesday night ended up as the best shooting game by a true guard with at least 20 shots in the playoffs since Vinnie Johnson notched a similar 16-for-21 game against Boston in 1985. And it was the biggest reason why the Spurs cruised to a 120-111 victory over the Thunder, claiming a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Parker might have out Microwaved “the Microwave” with his clutch shooting down the stretch, hitting 7 of his 8 2-point attempts and one of his two 3-pointers in the second half.
It finished off a memorable night that he was at a loss to explain afterwards.
"I don't know," Parker said. "It was just one of those nights. I felt in a good rhythm early on. I was making my shots and just trying to be aggressive."
What's more, there were a few times when you could tell Russell wanted to pay Parker back, which resulted in some of those awful dribble-dribble-dribble-dribble-dribble-shoot possessions that may be the fatal flaw that prevents Westbrook from becoming a true superstar. Speaking of which...
Steve Kerr, quote machine: "Dribble. Dribble. Dribble. Got to start moving the ball. There's too much dribbling. You can't beat a good defense by overdribbling."
Thabo Sefolosha: I know he really starts only so James Harden can win Sixth Man of the Year awards, but damn: 2 points, 1-for-4 shooting, 1 rebound and a -10 in 15 minutes.
Nazr Mohammed and Daequan Cook: In a combined 10 minutes off the bench, Mohammed and Cook each contributed...1 personal foul. That's it. Not a point. Not a rebound. Not even a turnover. Thanks for coming, fellas.
Kawhi Leonard's shoe-tying abilities: Try a double knot, Kawhi.
Tony Parker, quote machine, Part 1: Regarding his 8 assists: "It's always been a battle my whole career, when you're a scoring point guard and Pop wants you to score, then he wants you to pass, and he wants you to score, and he wants you to pass. You go back and forth. It's always been the biggest room for me to improve, to find a happy middle between scoring and passing, and find that good balance. I think, over the years, I got better at it."
Tony Parker, quote machine, Part 2: On getting blistered by a Popovich rant in the second half: "He's screamed at me for 11 years. We weren't getting our plays. We were playing sloppy."
Tony Parker, quote machine, Part 3: "When you have Coach Pop screaming at you every day, that will make you pass the ball. He's always big on, 'Find a better shot.' That's the way we play."
Kevin Durant, quote machine: "There are no moral victories for us. We were down. We dug ourselves a hole. We did what we normally do, which is fight all game, and we lost."
Scott Brooks, quote machine: On why the Spurs spanked his team: "They were making shots. I mean, they were spraying them all over the floor and knocking them in. I thought (Kawhi) Leonard was making the shots. (Manu) Ginobili made a lot of tough shots tonight. (Tony) Parker was on fire."