(Sports Network) - Less than a week ago the San Antonio Spurs were riding a
20-game winning streak. Today they are staring at elimination as they prepare
to visit Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western
With three straight wins in the series, it's the Thunder who are a win away
from capturing the franchise's first NBA Finals berth since 1996 when the
then-Seattle SuperSonics fell to the Chicago Bulls in six games.
"We have a great opportunity," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said on
Tuesday. "We're on our home floor but that doesn't guarantee automatic
victory. They're not going to give us the game. They're not just going to say,
'We've lost three in a row, we're going to give in.' We know we have a tough
James Harden netted 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and nailed a
game-deciding three-pointer in the final minute in Game 5 on Monday as OKC
hung on for a 108-103 win over San Antonio in the Alamo City.
Durant scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half while Russell Westbrook
added 23 points and 12 assists for the Thunder, who have a 3-2 series lead and
can close out the Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a place they haven't lost
"We stuck together," Brooks said after Game 5. "We had a couple bad stretches,
but we didn't break."
Manu Ginobili had a chance to tie the contest with 4.9 seconds remaining, but
his three-pointer from the left wing was off the mark. Inserted into the
Spurs' starting lineup for the first time this postseason, Ginobili poured in
a game-high 34 points.
It was the first time in this conference final that the home team failed to
Just a week ago the Spurs looked unbeatable and hadn't lost in 50 days. But on
the heels of their 20-game run, San Antonio lost its third straight game for
the first time all season.
"Championship teams win on the road," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.
"If we can't do that Wednesday, then we're not championship caliber. It's as
simple as that."
The feisty Spurs used an 11-0 run late to climb back into Game 5. Stephen
Jackson drained a three-pointer, Tim Duncan converted a pair of easy buckets
before he and Ginobili hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 101-99
with 1:51 left.
Westbrook swished a pull-up jumper from the right elbow, which preceded
Duncan's turnaround bank shot. Harden then hit the biggest shot of the game.
With the shot clock winding down and San Antonio rookie Kawhi Leonard in his
face, Harden rose up and nailed a triple from the left wing, giving the
Thunder a 106-101 edge with 28.8 ticks to play.
"Leonard was playing great defense on me. I just shot it with confidence. West
Conference finals, that's a big shot," Harden said.
Once again, though, the resilient Spurs didn't back down.
Ginobili drove in for a layup and Leonard made a fantastic defensive play to
help San Antonio regain possession, knocking the ball off of Oklahoma City's
Thabo Sefolosha along the right sideline with 15.8 seconds left.
With the Spurs down three, Ginobili, who went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc,
missed the shot that counted most. He received the ball from Duncan on a
dribble handoff along the left wing. Fading a bit to his right, the Argentine
let the ball go and backpedaled with his left hand raised in the air, but the
shot clanked off the rim.
"It wasn't a great shot, but it wasn't a bad one," Ginobili said of his tying
three-point attempt. "It just didn't go in."
Durant hit a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Only 14, six percent of NBA teams, have overcome an 0-2 deficit in a seven-
game series. The Thunder are trying to become the eighth to do it since 2004.
"The percentages, you can't really feed into that because you know that
there's always a chance," Brooks said. "There's 48 minutes to prove that
you're the better team that night, and we have an opportunity to do that
Popovich, meanwhile, is confident his charges will make the final hurdle a
tough one for OKC.
"Obviously you've got to win the next one," the San Antonio mentor said.
"We're one of four teams out of 30 (playing). We're here for a reason, and
I'll be on them, and I'm very sure they'll come out ready to go."
"You have to win on the road if you want to win a championship," point guard
Tony Parker added. "We have a great challenge in front of us and it is going
to be hard but I know we have a good team that can do it."
The Spurs went 2-1 against the Thunder during the lockout-shortened regular
season. Oklahoma City won the first meeting, 108-96 on Jan. 8 at Chesapeake
Energy Arena, but the Spurs came back to take the season series with a 107-96
victory Feb. 4 at the AT&T Center and a 114-105 road win March 16.
In the postseason, this rivalry dates back to 1982 when the Thunder were known
as the SuperSonics. The Spurs topped Seattle three times in the playoffs,
1982, 2002 and 2005. This is the first time the franchises have met since the
Sonics relocated to OKC in 2008.
Game 7 of the series, if necessary, is scheduled for Friday in San Antonio.
The Sports Network