98 - 101 Final
  for this game

Ginobili, Spurs use big 4th to beat Thunder

May 28, 2012 - 4:02 AM
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Facing probably their toughest test in more than a month, the Spurs found a way to come out on top again.

The biggest victory so far in a 19-game winning streak dating back more than six weeks has them another step closer to the NBA Finals.

Manu Ginobili scored 26 points off the bench and San Antonio rallied for a big fourth quarter Sunday night to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 101-98, in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in San Antonio.

Ginobili got 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, when the Spurs outscored the Thunder 39-27 to overcome a nine-point deficit. Tony Parker finished with 18 points, Tim Duncan scored 16 with 11 rebounds and Gary Neal had 12 points off the bench.

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 27 points, James Harden scored 19, Russell Westbrook had 17 and Derek Fisher added 13 points after making his first six shots.

"It was a hard-fought ball game," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "Nothing to be ashamed of."

After three quarters, Brooks' team was in a good position to avoid ending up like the other nine victims in San Antonio's franchise-record win streak.

The Thunder took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter after closing the third on a 10-3 run.

But the Spurs, coming off sweeps of the Jazz and Clippers, quickly stole the momentum back after playing -- according to head coach Gregg Popovich -- with a lack of confidence.

Trying to hone an edge, Popovich shouted a command at his team in the huddle that's sure to become an oft-played sound bite.

"I want some nasty!" the coach screamed.

He smiled later when the moment was brought up by a reporter at the beginning of his press conference, but his team snarled throughout the fourth quarter.

Parker hit a straightaway jumper early to tie the game at 73 -- part of an 18-3 run that gave the Spurs an 82-76 lead.

The Thunder never were closer than four until a Harden three-pointer at the end gave the game its final margin, making it look closer than it was.

Despite being so close after three quarters to ending San Antonio's streak, the Thunder went to the locker room in the same position as the Grizzlies, Suns, Warriors, Lakers, Kings, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, Jazz and Clippers.

Talking about a loss.

"They're playing the best basketball in the league," said Brooks, "and we were right there."

Ginobili ended 9-of-14 from the floor, including 3-for-5 on three-pointers. He made all three of his field goals in the fourth quarter and each of his five foul shots when the Spurs needed a spark the most.

"That's Manu's game. He's a scorer," said Popovich. "That's what he's done for us his whole career. Without that, we have a tough time winning."

The Thunder shot under 28 percent in the first quarter and the Spurs closed on a 10-2 run, taking a 24-18 lead into the second after Ginobili beat the buzzer with a three-pointer from the left side.

Ginobili scored the last seven points of first quarter for San Antonio while Durant and Westbrook had 11 in a row for Oklahoma City near the end of the second.

Fisher ended that run with a three-pointer in the waning moments for the Thunder, who took a 47-46 lead into halftime. They scored 15 points off San Antonio's 14 turnovers in the half.

The Spurs shot just 25 percent in the third quarter (6-of-24) and Harden hit a three-pointer to spark Oklahoma City's 10-3 run for a 71-62 lead going into the fourth.

Game Notes

The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will start the Eastern Conference finals on Monday...San Antonio's last loss was April 11 to the Lakers, the back end of a two-game losing streak. They are the only two losses the Spurs have since the middle of March...The Spurs are in the conference finals for the first time since 2008, when they lost to the Lakers...The Thunder swept Dallas and then beat the Lakers in five games to make the conference finals for the second year in a row. They lost to the Mavericks last year.