Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) dunks in the second quarter of Game 3 of an NBA basketball playoff series in the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, May 25, 2014, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
NBA Playoffs: Thunder 106, Spurs 97
NBA playoffs » Forward scores 15 in return from injury.
First Published May 25 2014 09:33 pm • Last Updated May 25 2014 11:06 pm

Oklahoma City • Serge Ibaka pointed to the sky, soaking in the cheers from the adoring home crowd moments before coming out of a game that just a few days earlier, he never imagined he could play.

He scored 15 points in a dramatic return from what was thought to be a season-ending left calf strain, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-97 on Sunday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

At a glance


In the Eastern Conference finals, Indiana’s Lance Stephenson serves as a foil for the Heat’s LeBron James. › B8

Thunder 106, Spurs 97

San Antonio 29 24 23 21 — 97

OKC 28 29 26 23 — 106


Leonard 4-11 2-2 10, Duncan 7-17 2-2 16, Splitter 2-3 0-0 4, Parker 4-13 0-0 9, Green 3-12 0-0 8, Ginobili 8-13 1-1 23, Diaw 3-10 0-0 6, Baynes 1-2 3-4 5, Mills 1-3 0-0 3, Belinelli 1-2 4-4 6, Bonner 0-1 0-0 0, Joseph 1-2 3-3 5, Ayres 1-2 0-0 2.

Totals 36-91 15-16 97.


Durant 8-19 8-8 25, Ibaka 6-7 3-4 15, Perkins 1-2 2-2 4, Westbrook 8-19 8-8 26, Jackson 6-13 2-2 15, Butler 2-6 0-0 5, Fisher 1-7 0-0 3, Adams 2-3 3-7 7, Lamb 3-5 0-0 6, Thabeet 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0.

Totals 37-81 26-31 106.

3-Point Goals—San Antonio 10-26 (Ginobili 6-9, Green 2-6, Parker 1-1, Mills 1-3, Bonner 0-1, Leonard 0-3, Diaw 0-3), Oklahoma City 6-22 (Westbrook 2-6, Butler 1-2, Fisher 1-3, Durant 1-4, Jackson 1-6, Lamb 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—San Antonio 48 (Duncan, Splitter 8), Oklahoma City 57 (Durant 10). Assists—San Antonio 22 (Diaw 6), Oklahoma City 17 (Westbrook 7). Total Fouls—San Antonio 20, Oklahoma City 24. Technicals—Westbrook. A—18,203 (18,203).

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Ibaka started after missing the first two games of the series. The Thunder originally said he would miss the rest of the playoffs, but changed course Friday. His presence helped the Thunder dominate and cut the Spurs’ lead in the series to 2-1.

Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks took Ibaka out with 3:17 remaining and the Thunder ahead by 20.

"When you talk about a teammate, that’s everything you want in a teammate," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "I gained so much more respect for Serge for sacrificing himself for the team. Regardless of what happened tonight, that’s something you want beside you."

Ibaka made six of seven shots and was a threat that gave Durant and Russell Westbrook relief. Westbrook had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds.

On defense, Ibaka was a strong physical presence who blocked and altered shots and used his still formidable mobility to close out on shooters. He had seven rebounds, four blocks and a seemingly endless amount of energy.

"Serge has put so much work in throughout the season that missing a couple of days didn’t hurt him," Westbrook said. "Tonight, he jumped right back into where he was."

Manu Ginobili scored 23 points and Tim Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs.

Game 4 is Tuesday night at Oklahoma City.

story continues below
story continues below

The Thunder outrebounded the Spurs 52-36 after losing the battle of the boards in the first two games. San Antonio, which shot at least 50 percent in the first two games, shot just 40 percent on Sunday night. The first two games looked like a layup drill for the Spurs. This time, they were forced to reset numerous times. The passes were not as quick or as easy.

"I was very disappointed that we didn’t come out with more of a foot in the neck sort of attitude," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "They killed us on the boards, they beat us in 50-50 balls and that’s very disappointing to me."

San Antonio won Game 2 112-77, leaving the Thunder humiliated.

"I knew that we were a better team than losing by 30," Brooks said. "It’s not us. It was us that night, but we’re a much better team than that. I have a lot of respect for San Antonio, but they’re not that much better than us."

Things were different from the start with Ibaka’s return. Brooks also inserted speedy Reggie Jackson into the starting lineup in Thabo Sefolosha’s place. Jackson finished with 15 points.

"We bounced back tonight. We always talk about that bounce-back ability and we had that tonight," Brooks said.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.