NEW YORK: The San Antonio Spurs dug deep to score a thrilling 112-107 overtime victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday to advance to the NBA Finals and a championship rematch against the Miami Heat.
With point guard Tony Parker sitting out the second half due to a sore ankle, the visiting Spurs relied on their deep bench before turning to evergreen power forward Tim Duncan in overtime to clinch a win that gave them the Western Conference title 4-2.
A frantic comeback keyed by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook allowed Oklahoma City to erase a 12-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, with two free throws by Westbrook tying the game 101-101 at the end of regulation.
The tight struggle broke the pattern of the series, which had seen the home team win comfortably over the first five games by an average victory margin of 20 points.
Duncan, however, made it comfortable for San Antonio at the end.
The quiet superstar scored seven points in a row in the closing minutes of overtime after trailing 105-103, receiving the ball down low and delivering a master lesson on post-up basketball to premier shot blocker Serge Ibaka.
“We wanted it badly,” said 38-year-old Duncan, who kept backing his way in toward the hoop. “They put it inside to me matched up against Ibaka, and I did what I could.
“I tried to neutralise his jumping and his blocked shots. I just tried to get underneath him and use my size to get over the top of him.”
The virtuoso overtime performance by Duncan gave him 19 points in the game along with a game-high 15 rebounds. Bench player Boris Diaw led San Antonio with 26 points while fellow reserve Manu Ginobili scored 15 points.
Versatile Argentine veteran Ginobili also helped pick up the slack at point guard after Parker was relegated to the bench.
Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points and Kevin Durant added 31 for Thunder. REUTERS