Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant reacts during Wednesday’s 35-point loss to the Spurs, who take a 2-0 series lead into Sunday’s Game 3. (Reuters)
SAN ANTONIO — Been here before, the Thunder kept saying. Been down 0-2 to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
Everyone wanted to hark back to the salad days of 2012, when the Thunder stormed to four straight victories to reach the NBA Finals. Heck, the Spurs kept saying it, too.
But here’s where the Thunder never have been before. Beaten this badly. Undressed like this. Whipped 112-77 Wednesday night by a San Antonio squad that made the Thunder look inept offensively, two days after doing the same to the Thunder defense.
This doesn’t feel anything like 2012.
“We’re disappointed,” Scotty Brooks said of the shellacking at AT&T Center. “It definitely doesn’t feel good, and it shouldn’t. We got our butts kicked.”
You can’t blame this on Serge Ibaka’s strained calf. Sure, Ibaka would have helped with the again-porous defense, which has allowed the Spurs to score at least 30 points in five of the seven quarters that matter in this series (the fourth quarter Wednesday night was a virtual preseason game). But instead of correcting the defense in Game 2, the Thunder just added offense to its fix-it list.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both were ineffective, combining to make 13 of 40 shots and take only five foul shots. The Thunder didn’t reach 20 points in any of the final three quarters. The Thunder seemed dazed and confused with the ball, which is a bad combination when your defense leaks.
“When you’re playing a team like (the Spurs), who is getting on a little bit of a roll, you really have to get good shots, and we didn’t get the best shots,” said Nick Collison. “You’re kind of throwing gas on the fire. We have to be better. I think that’s obvious.”
When the Thunder left San Antonio after Game 2 in 2012, it was angry. The Thunder had lost two decent games, 101-98 and 120-111. The Spurs controlled both games, but the Thunder wasn’t that far off. These Spurs have won two straight by blowout. This Thunder team goes home clueless how to deal with the Spurs.
The Thunder put on a brave front.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” said Brooks. “It’s one loss.”
Said Durant, “If they’d have won this game by one point, we still would have been down 0-2. We’ve been there before.”
Been there. Done that. But not done this. The Thunder has much ground to make up just to get competitive. Just to keep the Spurs out of the lane and off the rim. Just to get some decent shots itself.
“Offense wasn’t a problem tonight, man,” said Westbrook, who must have played the game with his eyes closed. “They just scored points. They made some good runs.”
Some good runs? How about one good run. The 18 minutes from midway through the second quarter, through the third period, when the Spurs outscored the Thunder 56-26. The Thunder hung around for awhile, then got blitzed like San Antonio is wont to do against the Milwaukees and Philadelphias of the league.
“We cannot take anything for granted,” said the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili. He, too, brought up 2012. “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 … it is never over until you win the fourth game. We know that, and most of us were on that (2012) team.”
But this feels different. And not just because Ibaka is injured. Through two games of the 2012 Western finals, the Thunder couldn’t quite seem to get over the hump. Through two games of these Western finals, the Thunder can’t seem to get out from under the avalanche.