|Date of game: 6/6/2012
Recap: Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - As improbable as it sounds, Oklahoma City just beat a team four times in seven days that hadn't lost in the previous 50.
And the reward is a trip to the NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant scored 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Russell Westbrook added 25 points, as the Thunder rallied from an 18-point deficit to win the Western Conference title with a 107-99 victory over San Antonio.
"(An) amazing moment for him to play like this in this moment, in this setting. I wasn't going to take him out," Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks said of Durant's sensational 48-minute night.
For the entire first half, it appeared Game 6 was a formality for forcing a deciding Game 7, as San Antonio looked poised and precise. It all changed in the second 24 minutes, a momentum swing that mimicked a stunning turnaround from where this series stood at the end of May.
San Antonio hadn't lost a game since April 11 before dropping Game 3 in Oklahoma City. That loss not only halted a 20-game winning streak, but started a tidal wave the Spurs couldn't stop.
James Harden added 16 points off the bench and Serge Ibaka chipped in with 10 for Oklahoma City, which will face either Boston or Miami in Game 1 of the NBA finals starting next Tuesday night. Boston holds a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 on Thursday.
This marks the Thunder's first NBA finals berth since they were based in Seattle as the then-SuperSonics in 1996.
Tony Parker scored a team-best 29 points with 12 assists, although he made just 4-of-13 shots with two assists in the second half. Tim Duncan added 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Stephen Jackson piled up 23 points with six three-pointers for the Spurs.
"In many ways this group may have even overachieved. I couldn't be more satisfied with their effort and what they have done this season," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
A Jackson three-pointer pushed the margin to 40-23 in the early moments of the second stanza and his third and fourth threes helped maintain a comfortable edge at 56-40 with just over 3 1/2 minutes to go in the half. The Spurs pushed back against every Thunder threat and took a 63-48 lead into the locker room.
Then everything changed in the third, as the Thunder's youth and energy flipped the game around. Ibaka's slam capped a faster-than-you-could-blink 11-2 stretch for a 65-59 contest, and the home team rode the crowd to a two- point deficit, 74-72, on Thabo Sefolosha's three-pointer with just under four minutes to go in the period.
Oklahoma City then scored seven straight capped by Durant's three, a long ball that brought the fans to their feet, completely erased an 18-point deficit and put the home team in front, 79-77.
San Antonio temporarily reclaimed the advantage, but it couldn't withstand the Thunder's momentum and Durant's offensive showcase in the second half. His two free throws opened an 88-84 lead, and he continued to live at the line moments later. His fifth and sixth free throws of the period maintained the four-point edge, 93-89, and a few of the other pieces made key shots down the stretch.
First, veteran Derek Fisher connected on a three for a 96-91 game and Harden buried a trey for a 99-93 lead. The Spurs hung around and had the ball with a four-point deficit, but missed three successive shots, including two threes, on the same possession. Kendrick Perkins' subsequent slam with 24.3 ticks to go put an exclamation point on the rally.
San Antonio came out on a mission from the tip, demonstrating its guile and sharpshooting ability in a clinic of a first period. Manu Ginobili's trey and Duncan's jumper started the period, and the Spurs really put a hold on the quarter with a 10-2 stretch capped by six straight points from Parker for a 15-8 advantage.
Parker continued his assault on the Thunder defense with a wide array of scoring styles, burying a dead-on three-pointer, driving to the rim for a layup and connecting on a free throw for a 25-14 lead. His three-point play gave him 17 of San Antonio's first 28 points and opened a 12-point edge nearing the three-minute mark.
Kawhi Leonard connected on a three and Jackson started his torrid display from downtown with a triple for a 34-16 advantage. The Spurs converted on four three-pointers in the period, nine in the half, and Jackson's three was the first of his four in the first 24 minutes.Game Notes
The Spurs didn't have a three-game losing streak all season before dropping four straight to end their campaign...Durant made 12-of-15 free throws as part of Oklahoma City's 25-of-31 effort from the charity stripe...San Antonio shot 54.5 percent in the first half, but finished the game at only 44 percent shooting...Oklahoma City made exactly half of its shots (36-of-72)...Jackson didn't made a two-point basket. He drained 6-of-7 threes and 5-of-6 free throws...Greg Willard was initially slated to officiate Game 6, but he was replaced by Rodney Mott due to illness.