After two straight blowout losses at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs to start the Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared to be dead in the water. But with Serge Ibaka back from a calf injury for Game 3, the Thunder looked more like their normal selves in a 106-97 victory. Oklahoma City will try and tie up the series at 2-2 in Game 4 on Tuesday night.
Ibaka had a solid game in his return to the lineup, scoring eight quick points and finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. His mere presences was a boon for the Thunder defense, which had been sliced and diced in San Antonio. The Spurs shot 76.8 percent in the restricted area combined in Games 1 and 2, but only 53.6 percent in Game 3, according to NBA.com's stats page.
Thunder vs. Spurs
Thunder vs. Spurs
In addition to Ibaka, the Thunder got big performances from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Westbrook got off to a really rough start, but he came on strong at the end of the first half and carried that into the second. Westbrook finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Durant notched a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Reggie Jackson also had a nice game, scoring 15 points and handing out five assists. Jackson was the beneficiary of a coaching adjustment by Scott Brooks, getting the starting nod over Thabo Sefolosha after Sefolosha was a complete non-factor in Games 1 and 2.
Speaking of non-factors, that's exactly what Tony Parker was in Game 3. Parker laid a dud, scoring just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green all struggled as well, combining to go just 14-of-40 from the field.
Manu Ginobili was really the only Spur to have a good game, scoring 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. However, Ginobili only scored three points after halftime and also suffered a foot injury. Luckily, the injury isn't serious and the veteran isn't expected to miss any time.
If San Antonio can regain its footing, they can take command of this series and have a chance to close it out at home in Game 5. But if Oklahoma City wins again, it will only be natural to think back to the 2012 Western Conference Finals when the Thunder lost the first two games and then won four straight. The Spurs certainly would prefer to not bring back those painful memories.
Game time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena
Radio: ESPN Radio, WWLS 98.1FM OKC, WOAI 1200AM/KCOR 135