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Parkers second half lifts Spurs in game 3

Tony Parker showed the Spurs are more than a one man team.

After the dominance of Lamarcus Aldridge the first two games of the series, the Spurs got a big time performance from their long time point guard. Kawhi Leonard scored a game high 31 points, Aldridge added 24, but Parker stepped up in the second half and scored 19 as the San Antonio Spurs took back home court advantage with a 100-96 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 3 of the western conference semifinals on Friday night. “He kept his poise, he kept his focus and had a great second half.” said head coach Gregg Popovich.

Game 3 took place 4 days after one of the most controversial endings in NBA playoff history. After being on the wrong side of several no calls, the Spurs decided to settle things on the basketball court for game 3. After falling behind early, Leonard hit a three pointer that gave the Spurs the lead for the next 2 quarters, setting the tone for the Spurs to take control. Up 22-20, the Spurs embarked on a 13-0 run that was started by back to back dunks from Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili, giving the Spurs a 27-20 lead after 1; and was book-ended by threes from Patty Mills and David West that put San Antonio up 35-20. Before the half ended, Aldridge reminded everyone why the Thunder have had no answer for him in this series as he knocked down another fadeaway to put the Spurs up 47-42 at halftime.

But Chesapeake Energy Arena has never been kind to the Spurs. San Antonio has had many struggles there since the Thunder moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008, and in many games the Thunder erased double digit Spurs leads with ease. That would happen again as the Thunder came out firing in the third quarter led by the duo of Kevin Durant(24 points)and Russell Westbrook(31 points). Serge Ibaka-who is normally a subpar three point shooter, hit five out of six from behind the line, and his fourth one brought OKC to within one, but Tony Parker answered right back with two of his own in an 8-0 Spurs to give the Spurs a 69-60 lead. Westbrook however helped the Thunder cut the Spurs lead to 72-69 going into the 4th quarter. Despite his 31 points, Westbrook needed 31 shots to get them, and that was a key of the Spurs gameplan. “We know he’s going to be very aggressive,” Parker said. “They go down, we know he’s going to be extra aggressive, so we just make sure that everybody’s paying attention to weak side defense. He’s coming at us. That’s who he is. He’s got a lot of energy, and he’s just going to keep attacking.”

Oklahoma City finally completed the comeback when Ibaka and Westbrook hit back to back three pointers to give the Thunder an 81-77 lead, and that’s when Tony Parker decided he had seen enough. The Spurs managed to tie the game at 85, then Parker nailed a pull up jumper in front of four Thunder defenders to give San Antonio the lead. His scooping layup would give the Spurs a 91-85 lead and cap a 10-0 run. David West then made a banking fall away jumper with 1:17 left to give San Antonio a 96-89 lead, and game 3 seemed just about wrapped up. But OKC didn’t wave the white flag just yet. Westbrook followed a Durant miss with a putback dunk and got fouled, and then got fouled again before making two free throws to cut the lead to two. But this time the Spurs finished the game as Leonard picked up a huge offensive rebound that would force the Thunder to foul. “I just attacked the glass and jumped and grabbed it,” he said. “It was a backbreaker,” Durant said of Leonards clutch rebound. “We played good defense and were down seven with a minute to go and cut it to two. We made him (Aldridge) miss his shot, and the ball kind of fell in his (Leonard’s) hands. He was in great position to get the rebound, and that sucks.” The Spurs shot poorly from the foul line; hitting 24 of 34 for 70%, but they made four critical ones in the final 18 seconds to hold off the Thunder and take back homecourt advantage. It’s only the third win in Oklahoma City since game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals for the Spurs, who now lead the series 2-1.

Chase Risman


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