NBA notes: Thunder cling to 2012 for little signs of hope
All the Oklahoma City Thunder can do now is cling to history.
Two more victories by the dominant San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals, and Kevin Durant and the Thunder will be just that.
The Thunder stagger home down 0-2 in the series, smarting from a 35-point beat-down in San Antonio in Game 2 on Wednesday night. It’s the same deficit the Thunder faced against the Spurs in the 2012 Western Conference finals before they won four straight and advanced to the NBA Finals.
“We’ve been there before,” Durant said after managing just 15 points in the 112-77 defeat. “You know, we try not to just 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. We’ve got to just stick together and believe in each other that we can come out and try to get Game 3 on Sunday.”
The situations are similar only at first glance. Sure, the two-game deficit is the same, but the hole seems so much bigger.
This time around, the Thunder have lost the first two games by 52 combined points and looked completely overwhelmed. Durant and Russell Westbrook are struggling to hit shots on offense and no combination that coach Scott Brooks scratches together on defense has been able to slow down the Spurs.
As dominant as they have been in this series, the Spurs haven’t forgotten their stunning collapse two years ago. It’s in the forefront of their minds as they prepare for Game 3 in Oklahoma City, and they vow to be ready.
There is a lingering wariness among the Spurs at just how easy the first two victories have come. They know Durant can resume his MVP form in the blink of an eye. They know Westbrook can catch fire with the smallest of sparks. And they know the Thunder crowd will have their team amped from the opening tip.
“We were in that position in 2012. We were up 2-0, and so I know after the game, nobody is very happy in their locker room,” Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. “Everybody is very focused, and we respect that team. We know that they’re very capable of a comeback, and they did that against us in 2012. We’re just very focused, and nobody is satisfied.”
No contact drills for Pacers’ George
The Indiana Pacers kept Paul George out of contact drills because of a concussion.
It’s still uncertain whether he will be cleared to play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday in Miami. George was diagnosed with a concussion, less than 24 hours after he told reporters he had “blacked out” and had blurred vision following a collision with Miami’s Dwyane Wade near the end of Game 2.
Williams schedules ankle surgery
Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams will have surgery next week on both ankles, which have plagued him the last two seasons. The Nets say the surgery will be performed by team specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley.
Williams missed 18 games, 16 because of a sprained left ankle, and was limited to 14.3 points and 6.1 assists per game.
Around the league
A person familiar with the situation says the Cavaliers have asked the Clippers for permission to interview assistant coach Alvin Gentry for their head coaching position. … Memphis coach Dave Joerger met with Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders about the Timberwolves’ coaching vacancy. … University of Florida’s Billy Donovan has spoken to a couple of NBA teams about coaching vacancies, but adds that “I fully plan on being back (with tha Gators)” next season.
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