Thunder reaches NBA Finals by beating Spurs in Game 6
For the first time since 1996, when the franchise was in Seattle, Oklahoma City is in the NBA Finals by virtue of their series-clinching win Wednesday night over San Antonio.
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Durant celebrated even before the final buzzer, hugging his mother and brother seated courtside after a foul was called with 14 seconds remaining.Skip to next paragraph
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"I never want to take those moments for granted," Durant said. "I know it's just one step closer to our dreams, but it felt good."
Coach Scott Brooks said he was not going to take Durant out of the game, no matter how many times his All-Star gave him a fatigued look.
"Kevin's an amazing young man," Brooks said. "His stat line is not even close to who he is as a young man. He's respected by his teammates, by the staff, by the city. He's a great ambassador to this league and I'm proud to coach him. He wants to be coached.
"He's a great leader."
The Thunder, only three years removed from a 3-29 start that had them on pace for the worst record in NBA history, went through the only three West teams to reach the finals since 1998 — Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio — to earn their shot at the title.
Derek Fisher and James Harden hit 3-pointers in a three-possession span to increase the lead to 99-93 with 3:13 remaining. Jackson, who had made his previous six 3-pointers, and Parker both missed 3s that would have gotten the Spurs within 103-102 in the final minute.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich thought the game was lost in the third quarter, when the Spurs were "playing in mud."
The Spurs got quick offense in the first half and made 9 of 15 from 3-point range while shooting 55 percent overall.
Parker, who had been largely bottled up ever since the Thunder put 6-foot-7 defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha on him in Game 3, had a hand in the Spurs' first 12 baskets, making seven on his own and assisting on the other five.
Kawhi Leonard and Jackson followed his three-point play by nailing back-to-back 3-pointers for a 34-16 advantage in the final 2 minutes of the first quarter.
The youthful Thunder stormed back with an 11-2 run to start the third quarter and eventually pulled ahead after Durant's 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 79-77 with 1:41 left in the period.
"We can't have their legs, their energy. We are never going to jump as high or run as fast," Ginobili said. "But the first half we did a great job, we just moved the ball to find teammates, made shots. In the second half, they were very active and we couldn't find anything easy."
Notes: Popovich, whose request for his team to play nasty led to T-shirts being made in San Antonio, said at the morning shootaround that his team needed to play "with a little bit of ugly." Not nasty? "I was trying to stay away from that word," he said. ... San Antonio had a 29-28 edge in the second quarter after getting outscored 138-106 in the period in the first five games — dropping more than six points per game. ... Greg Willard was scheduled to be one of the three officials but pulled out due to illness. Rodney Mott replaced him, alongside Joe Crawford and Bill Kennedy.