Serge Ibaka's return was huge for the Oklahoma City Thunder as they got off the mat at home in the Western Conference Finals and beat the Spurs 106-97. Ibaka was fantastic, making 6-7 from the field for 15 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks. He was a force in the paint defensively, as the Spurs only managed 40 points in the paint, significantly less than they scored in the first two games.
Overall, the Spurs only shot 39% from the field as they were forced to take difficult, contested shots and a lot of jumpers. They went in early, but eventually the Spurs started missing, as their starting back court of Tony Parker and Danny Green combined to shoot 7-25. Manu Ginobili was the only hot Spur last night, shooting 8-13 overall and 6-9 from three point land to finish with a team high 23. It wasn't enough, as the Thunder got solid games from Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Reggie Jackson (who started this game) as well as Ibaka.
The Thunder also dominated the free throw line, with 31 attempts to the Spurs 16, and had an insane 22-0 free throw advantage in the third quarter, a quarter when the Spurs missed several opportunities to get back in front due to the Thunder's aggressive offensive reobounding. They wound up with 15 offensive rebounds in the game.
Game Four is Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
Pacers at Heat
The Heat seem to have taken control of this series with two straight wins after losing the opener. They have dominated the last two fourth quarters, with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in game two, and a barrage of Ray Allen threes in game three. But it's their ability to turn up the defensive pressure and force the Pacers into bad shots and turnovers that has turned this series around. The Pacers are simply not good enough offensively to overcome the ferocious version of the Heat's defense, which isn't always there, but has been frequently enough in the last two games to help get the Heat wins.
The Heat can really put a hammerlock on this series with a win at home tonight.
Meanwhile, the Lynx are in action this afternoon at 2:30 in a match up between probably the best two teams in the WNBA. They visit Chicago for their third game in four nights to meet the Chicago Sky, who like the Lynx are 4-0 on the season. They are led by Elena Delle Donne, the second year star who is averaging 23.5 points a game.
This game will be televised nationally on ESPN2, so it's a great chance to see the Lynx in action if you haven't yet. I really recommend it, as it's excellent basketball, and the Lynx have amazing talent that you shouldn't miss. That said, I expect this will be their first loss of the year, as the injuries and subsequent lack of depth will finally catch up to them.
I have little idea what happened with Dave Joerger, who seemed out in Memphis until late yesterday afternoon. All of a sudden, he's staying there and the Wolves number one coaching choice is suddenly not available. Somehow, for some reason, Grizzlies owner Robert Pera had a change of heart and decided he wanted to keep Joerger there after meeting with him on Sunday.
Which sends us scurrying back to the drawing board. Sam Mitchell is still likely in the frame, to my dismay, and we'll see if Flip Saunders reaches out to anyone else not that Joerger is out of the picture.
Meanwhile, the Wolves are starting to schedule workouts for draft prospects. I live in terror of these workouts, because I think they do more harm than good, but it's an annual ritual.
#Twolves booked Duke's Rodney Hood for a workout June 14, per source. Mentioned last night: June 15 has Hairston, Kane, Brown in town.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) May 25, 2014
Today in history
1538: John Calvin and followers are expelled from Geneva
1637: 500 Native Americans killed in first battle of the Pequot at Mystic, CT.
1647: First execution of an accused witch in colonies is Alse Young, hung in CT.
1805: Lewis and Clark first report sighting of Rocky Mountains
1857: Dred Scott and family freed
1896: Nicolas II crowned (last Russian Tsar).
1938: House Committee on un-American Activities forms
1966: Buddhist monk self-immolates in protest outside U.S. consulate in Hue, South Vietnam
1972: Nixon and Brezhnev sign SALT accord
Today's musical birthday is Miles Davis, born in 1926 (d. 1991)
Monday. Memorial day. Have a good one.