Thunder rolls on the road, beats Spurs in Game 5 (+video)
Oklahoma City is one win away from the franchise's first NBA Finals, after a thrilling five-point win in San Antonio Monday night.
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Oklahoma City pulled it off behind their stars. James Harden scored 20, joining Durant and Westbrook as the only Thunder players in double figures.Skip to next paragraph
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Harden hit the biggest shot, draining a 3-pointer with 28.8 seconds left that pushed Oklahoma City's lead to five. He admitted afterward that the ball was supposed to go to Durant but had no choice but to let go with the shot clock winding down and Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard in his face.
"The shot clock was running down and I had to make a play," Harden said. "Leonard was playing great defense on me. I just shot it with confidence. West Conference finals — that's a big shot."
After remaining unbeaten for 50 days before arriving in Oklahoma City, San Antonio has lost three games in five days. They now must win two straight to avoid seeing their last best chance to win in a title in the Duncan era end.
"Championship teams win on the road," Popovich said. "Oklahoma City just did that."
It's the first time the Spurs have lost three in a row all season.
Durant scored 22 of his points in the second half. He dedicated the win to his uncle, whom Durant said was in the hospital.
Westbrook also had 12 assists.
Not wanting the series to slip away, Popovich moved Ginobili to the starting lineup in place of Green, who came in shooting a combined 8 of 28 in this series.
Green's days as a starter began looking numbered after Game 3. He couldn't save his job before leaving Oklahoma City — Green shot 4 of 12 in both losses combined — and Popovich couldn't wait any longer with the series tied and the season in the balance.
Out with the undrafted swingman who barely made training camp, and in with the former All-Star. Pulling this big an adjustment this deep in the season likely didn't come easy for the NBA coach of the year, and the gambit drew mixed results.
It looked like a no-brainer with Ginobili leading all scorers at halftime with 14, but new rotations for the Spurs made for rocky possessions. None more so than in the second quarter, when the Spurs shot 38 percent.
Ginobili finished 11 of 21 and made half of his 10 3-point attempts. But with the game and arguably San Antonio's season on the line, his last one didn't connect.
"It's either win or go home," Ginobili said. "It's our job. Nobody is going to feel sorry about ourselves."
Notes: Taking a page from the Thunder, the Spurs held a T-shirt whiteout at the AT&T Center, a move the team has rarely made before. ... Durant's the clear last-shot taker for the Thunder. Popovich said it's as obvious as Dirk Nowitzki having the ball in his hands at the end for Dallas. But who do the Spurs go to with the game on the line? "It's a secret," Popovich said before the game.