OKC eyeing 2012-style comeback


SAN ANTONIO -- In the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were doing the exact same thing Serge Ibaka was, some 450 miles north.

Arms crossed and shoulders slouched, the two Oklahoma City Thunder stars were off their feet, forced to watch a complete San Antonio Spurs liquidation Wednesday night. It was a 112-77 playoff embarrassment unlike any they've ever experienced, the worst postseason loss for the franchise since moving to Oklahoma City.

But it's not unknown territory for them, outside the historic final margin. For both teams, 2012 remains a talking point, when the Thunder overcame a 2-0 deficit to the Spurs with four straight wins to advance to the NBA Finals.

"We've been here before," Durant said. "That's all we can say. We try not to say since we were down 0-2 two years ago and we end up winning, we'll do the same thing. We've really got to figure it out on how we need to get better, and we've always done that."

The callback of 2012 is obvious, and stared everyone in the face following the Spurs' 35-point win on Wednesday, but there's no denying the differing feel. For starters, that Thunder team had James Harden and a healthy Ibaka. Plus, this Spurs team is better than that one. In 2012, Kawhi Leonard was a rookie and Danny Green -- who hit 7-of-10 from 3-point range on Wednesday -- was essentially benched by Game 4.

"I remember that series very well," Green said. "It's a series I won't forget."

The Thunder have three days off before Sunday's Game 3, which has essentially turned into a must-win. In 2012, the Thunder blitzed the Spurs from tipoff, swarming the ball and energizing their rabid home crowd. It was a Thunder rout, one that ended a near-60-day run without a loss for the Spurs, and sent a strong message that things weren't going to be easy for the kings of the West.

This time, there's no magical adjustment to make. Thunder coach Scott Brooks is taking the brunt of the blame, but there's no clear solution to fix the team right now.

"It's easy for you guys to figure out because y'all aren't playing," an agitated Durant said. "But for us, we've just got to fly around. We've got to make more efforts. We've got to play a little harder, and got to contest.

"Of course everybody is going to try to spread us apart these next few days, but we've never been a team that front-runs. We always stick together no matter what. We've just got to go out there and do it."

With the injury to Ibaka, the bulk of the burden has been squarely placed on Westbrook and Durant. The defense is pillow-soft, the offense is as erratic as Westbrook's wardrobe, and the complementary players are wildly inconsistent. So it's on them. And they didn't show up in Game 2. They combined for 30 total points on just 13-for-40 shooting. While the Spurs spread the floor with magical ball movement and pinpoint spacing, the Thunder seem to get in their own way, running simple actions side to side without any counters off the initial trigger.

"It's easy to say [the shots are bad] now when we miss them, but when we make them two weeks ago, there's nothing said," Westbrook said. "So now it's a problem when we miss. But that's how it goes."

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