NBA: Spurs silence Thunder, stay undefeated in playoffs
The San Antonio Spurs beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-98 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday. The Spurs are now on a 19-0 win streak, and are undefeated in the 2012 playoffs.
The Spurs have already won 4 championships under coach Greg Popovich and are looking to win a 5th. Their quest seemed to be on shaky ground for the first 3 quarters of their game against the Thunder Sunday. After 3 quarters, the older and more experienced Spurs trailed their younger opponents by 9, Reuters
The Spurs, however, remained calm, and 3 little words coined by Gregg Popovich opened their eyes. "I want some nasty!"
After hearing that phrase, things turned around for the Spurs.
The Spurs' Stephen Jackson, who is also a rapper, loved Popovich's "I want some nasty!" line.
According to NBA.com,
after the game, the veteran player responded to Popovich's surprisingly motivational words "I love nasty, especially on the court. Nasty is my name. Stephen Nasty Jackson. I like that. It feels good."
Jackson was brought back to the Spurs in a trade deadline deal 3 months ago.
"I said that?" the 63-year old Popovich said after the game, according to ESPN
. He explained that he told his team to get a little"uglier" and a little more nasty." He said in order to win, they had to "play with more fiber," and "take it to these guys."
The Spurs outscored the Thunder 39-27 in the 4th, Reuters
Manu Ginobili scored 26 points, leading the Spurs to win their 19th in a row, ESPN
"They had us on our heels, and we were not aggressive," Ginobili
told reporters speaking of the first 3 quarters in which the Spurs struggled. "We needed an edge. In the 4th quarter, we had it."
According to NBA.com
, the Spurs wiped out the Thunder's 9 point lead within minutes. Like Popovich instructed, they began to play "nasty."
Tim Duncan had 16 points and Tony Parker finished with 18.
Kevin Durant had 27 points for the Thunder while Russell Westbrook added 17, ESPN
"I shot good shots, made good passes," Durant said. "Unfortunately, we lost."
Durant did not score any field goals in the last 16 minutes of the game," Reuters
According to ESPN
, the Thunder held the Spurs to just 16 points in the 3rd, but then the Spurs scored 39 in the 4th. Russell Westbrook said it was just a defensive break that "got out of hand."
Thunder guard Derek Fisher said, "How it happened is relevant," regarding how their lead slipped away. "Whether we lose by 20 or lose by 1, we still lost."
The 2001 Lakers are the only other NBA team to carry this long of a winning streak going into and throughout the playoffs, and they won the championship that year, the Detroit Free Press
notes. With just one more win, the Spurs will become only the 4th NBA team to surpass 20 wins in a row.
Though things may not look to be in their favor right now, the Thunder are remaining focused and optimistic. "It's a long series and you have to continue to play," Derek Fisher said according to Reuters
. He had 13 points Sunday.
"They showed mental toughness being able to battle back, and now it's our turn."