Undermanned yet undaunted, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook threw everything they had at the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Even when they were down by 15 points in the first half, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s dynamic duo didn’t give in.
Miami 87, Indiana 83
Series tied 1-1
Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m., TNT
Spurs lead series 1-0
They used their athleticism and shot-making to will Oklahoma City back into the game, and when Westbook’s 19-foot jumper splashed through the net with under five minutes to play in the third quarter, the Thunder jumped ahead.
What became apparent as the highly anticipated matchup wore on was that the Spurs were turning it into a game of two-on-five.
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the experienced Spurs sat back in that third quarter as Durant and Westbrook led the rally.
But there are no TKOs in basketball.
Every game goes the distance. And by the time the fourth quarter came around, the Thunder didn’t have anything left. And if Durant and Westbrook don’t get more help from their supporting cast, this could be an awfully short series.
"We turned the ball over a little too much but we’ve got to continue to trust whether the guys are hitting shots or not," Durant said.
"We’ve got to keep playing within our offense and playing with the pass. We’ll be fine. We do a good job of attacking, not just for ourselves, but for our teammates. We’ve just got to continue to trust."
Durant and Westbrook combined for 19 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter on Monday night to get the Thunder back into the game.
But they scored just nine total points over the final 17 minutes of the game while the deep and balanced Spurs continued to carve up a defense that was sorely missing shot-blocker Serge Ibaka.
"They’re not going to be stopped but if those kinds of players can be made to work hard and just take something away, it can work to your advantage," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
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