By Michael Kinney
CNHI News Service
SAN ANTONIO — There is getting beat and there is getting beat down. Oklahoma City experienced the latter Wednesday in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals .
Facing an already uphill battle, the Thunder were run off the court 112-77 by San Antonio at the AT&T Center. The 35-point loss tied the worst playoff loss in franchise playoff history.
“We’re disappointed,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We’re disappointed in how this game turned out. It definitely doesn’t feel good and it shouldn’t. I hope our entire locker room doesn’t feel good. You shouldn’t feel good. We got our butts kicked.”
The Spurs now lead the best of seven series 2-0 with Game 3 coming Sunday. That gives the Thunder three days to hear about how brutally bad they looked Wednesday.
The one silver lining Oklahoma City has to grasp is its own history. Facing the same team in the 2012 conference finals the Thunder dropped the first two games only to come back and win the next four and advance to the NBA Finals.
“We’ve been there before,” Kevin Durant said. “That’s all we can say. We try not to say, just (because) we were down 0-2 two years ago and we end up winning, we’ll do the same thing. We really have to figure it out on how we need to get better.”
However, that Thunder team two years ago was loaded and healthy. The current Thunder are not and, Wednesday, appeared broken physically and psychologically by the time the game ended. And the Spurs don’t plan to let up.
“We just talked about that in the shower,” San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili said. “We cannot take anything for granted. We had a great start and ended up losing the series. We are playing a team that is so talented and has so many ways of scoring, especially such a great players like Durant, who can shoot over three people if he wants. It is never over until you win the fourth game.”
The Thunder came out more aggressive and physical, which is exactly what they did in Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the L.A. Clippers.
It took a little while, but Oklahoma City found a lineup that worked midway through the first quarter. Trailing early, the Thunder came out with a lineup of Kevin Durant, Steven Adams, Caron Butler, Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson.
With the ball moving freely to the open man, Oklahoma City stormed back to take a 26-24 lead after 12 minutes.
That changed when a determined Westbrook reentered the contest. For the rest of the half he phased out his teammates with ill-advised shots and over dribbling as he looked to get his game going. The flow the Thunder built soon evaporated and they were outscored 34-18 in the second quarter. The Spurs led by 14 heading into halftime.
It only got worse.
San Antonio’s Danny Green continued to assault the basket with 3-pointers. He finished the night hitting 7-of-10 from the behind the arc.
Both teams rested their starters in the fourth quarter and prepared themselves for the long lay-off before Game 3.
Tony Parker finished with 22 points and handed out five assists. Green collected 22 while TIm Duncan added 14 and 12 rebounds. Tiago Splitter added nine points and 10 rebounds.
Durant (6-for-16) and Westbrook (7-for-24) each scored 15 points on a combined 13-of-40 shooting. The dynamic duo wasn’t very dynamic in any phase, also combining on seven assists and eight rebounds. No other Thunder player reached double-digit scoring.
Free-throw shooting also told a tale. This postseason, the Thunder are No. 1 in attempts with 27 per game. In Game 2 they shot 10 free throws, total. Half of those came from Durant while Westbrook didn’t shoot any.
“It tells me we only took, I think, three free throws the last three quarters,” Brooks said. “We’re a high free throw shooting team. Our offense is good when we’re attacking and getting to the free-throw line.”
By Michael Kinney
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