SAN ANTONIO — Coach Scott Brooks knew it wouldn’t be easy not having a player such as Serge Ibaka on the court. Yet, he still thought Oklahoma City had a chance to steal a game in San Antonio, despite losing the league’s leading shot blocker.
However, Brooks may have learned just how valuable Ibaka is to the team after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as the Spurs rolled through the Thunder 122-105 Monday at the AT&T Center.
Brooks has prided himself and his team on not making excuses when they lose. So he would not use the loss of Ibaka as a reason for why Oklahoma City’s defense looked helpless at times.
“We’re a no-excuse team,” Brooks said. “Serge is out. He’s not coming back. We have to play better if we expect to beat one of the best teams in basketball. We’re not going to make any excuses.
“No matter who we have out there, I’m going to have confidence in all the guys to compete on the defensive end. We’ve done it all year. It’s not about who we have, who we don’t have. It’s about we have to play much better as a group.”
Game 2 is Wednesday in San Antonio.
San Antonio had it going from everywhere on the court. They not only dominated inside with 66 points in the paint but also drained nine 3-pointers. When they have both areas working effectively, they are difficult to beat.
Yet, the Thunder were still in striking distance midway through the fourth quarter when they trailed by 10, but they couldn’t come up with the stops needed to make it a close contest at anytime in the final quarter.
Tim Duncan scored 27 points to lead the Spurs. Manu Ginobli added 18 while Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green each posted 16.