"There's not much to complain about. We had a great run. We just couldn't beat these guys." Manu Ginobili said that after the Oklahoma Thunder ended the San Antonio Spurs' season with a Game 6 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City rallied from 18 points down in the first quarter and blew the game open in the second half, outscoring San Antonio by 23 en route to a 107-99 win and a spot in the NBA Finals.
But one Spurs player may have felt differently than his Argentine teammate.
"Our effort was there. I thought our execution was there. And they just made shots through a stretch there," a gloomy Tim Duncan told reporters. "Down the stretch for a period there, it seems like they got every whistle possible. That really changed the tides. We were playing tough defense. We were trying to make stops and try to push it back, and the whistle kept blowing and they kept going to the line and getting some free points there. That's them being aggressive."
That's not necessarily something expected to come out of Duncan's mouth, someone who has the reputation of being quiet and without emotion.
The Thunder scored 59 points in the second half, 16 of them coming from the free throw line (on 21 attempts). By comparison the Thunder got 16 total points from the free throw line in Game 3. Ginobili picked up four fouls in the fourth quarter, forcing coach Gregg Popovich to bench him with just under six minutes to go. Ginobili entered the game a few minutes later, but the Thunder had taken the lead and never relinquished it (although they came close).
Duncan kept the Spurs within striking distance in the final minutes, finishing with 25 points and 14 rebounds. But OKC was ultimately too much for Antonio. In a rare moment of public exasperation, Duncan vented some frustration after losing a series in which the Spurs were up 2-0 riding a 20-game winning streak. Losing four straight after a run like that is presumably tough to swallow, even for someone as famously even-keeled as Duncan.