In the Game 2 version, Spurs win by 35
By CEDRIC GOLDEN
By CEDRIC GOLDEN
SAN ANTONIO (MCT) — The Spurs did everything but take the Thunder's lunch money in Game 2.
They have become the big boys on the block and Wednesday night's massacre provided further evidence that they are the best team in these playoffs.
San Antonio 112, Oklahoma City 77.
Danny Green hit a boatload of threes, but the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and 36-year-old Manu Ginobili set the tone from the jump and Ginobili, one offseason removed from a nightmare finish to the NBA Finals, had his fingerprints all over this one.
His numbers (11 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds) weren't earth-shattering, but he provided that little piece of swagger that spurred his team to turn a close game into a blowout in what seemed like seconds.
His second-quarter pass summed up the evening's events better than any other play.
Ginobili was in the left corner, a pet spot where he has knocked down countless jumpers in his 11 seasons. None of the 18,581 who showed up at the AT&T Center would have blamed him one bit for letting another three-pointer fly, but Ginobili switched up and threw a bullet of a hook pass to the other corner for a waiting Danny Green who buried a triple in front of the San Antonio bench.
"I would rather not comment on who does what on what play if you don't mind," Gregg Popovich deadpanned when asked about the play, a sure sign he was impressed.
"I didn't expect him to get the pass there," Green said. "I didn't think he was going to throw it, but he still threw it because it's Manu. It was a curveball."
Not one to settle for one highlight moment, Ginobili retrieved an offensive rebound two possessions later and noticed that he could get a two-for-one opportunity with less than one minute remaining in the half. He retreated to the three-point line and launched a rainmaker that found the bottom of the net.
A 14-point halftime lead soon ballooned to 30 in the second half and now we are left to wonder if this series was over before it ever really started. Yes, I know the Thunder rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win four straight and eliminate the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, but that team had James Harden and a healthy Serge Ibaka.
The current group appears to be a rudderless ship that's unable to find its sea legs, particularly its two stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined to make only 13 of 40 field goal attempts in three quarters of play.
Ginobili and his Big Three brethren are dancing through this Western Conference title series with the glee of neighborhood kids playing kickball at recess. But in this case, the ball has been replaced by the collective rear ends of the Thunder, who were utterly helpless against the scariest offense remaining in the playoffs.
"These games are very dangerous," Ginobili said of the blowout. "It's not a reality. We're not 30 points ahead of where they are."
A video tribute set to music was posted on YouTube three days ago and had generated nearly 600,000 views at the time of this column. With Magic Johnson and Popovich providing commentary, the seven-minute video is a festival of give-and gos, extra passes, perfect screens, and layups for days by an offense that has become the standard bearer for team basketball.
The video is pretty good, but the live version was even better.
"This isn't the Princeton offense, but it just seems that way because of all the backdoor cuts and passes," marveled TNT analyst Reggie Miller.
Ginobili has put the postseason retirement whispers in the rear view mirror after he committed 12 turnovers in Games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals and missed a crucial free throw down the stretch of Game 6 with the Spurs one win away from a title. He has been one bright light on a Christmas tree of a roster that appears unstoppable at this point.
On a night when the Big Three surpassed the Lakers trio of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Cooper for most playoff wins with 111, they spent the final quarter in giddy fashion on the bench. Who knows, talk of a Ginobili retirement may start up again if the Spurs take out the Thunder and win a fifth title, but for now, he is playing with the joy of a high school sophomore.
And the Spurs are rolling toward the finals.