This matchup was a tale of two games in one. The Spurs lit up the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first 24 minutes of Game 6, but the second half belonged to Durant and company.
The Zombies trailed by 15 at halftime, but stormed back to pull within one by the time the third quarter buzzer sounded. Oklahoma City had all the momentum in the world going into the fourth quarter, and they never looked back.
Surely, there are fingernails all over the floor of their home arena, but the Thunder got it done in the last three minutes and have redeemed themselves after a disappointing end to last season.
Tweets of the Night
ESPN Stats & Info let us know just how good Tony Parker's first quarter was:
Tony Parker is only the 2nd player since 1996 with 17 Pts and 5 Ast in a playoff qtr. Deron Williams did it in 2007 vs SA in the 4th.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 6, 2012
The Spurs defy Father Time. They also defy Tim Legler:
#spurs putting on an incredible shooting display. At some point they have to cool off.— Timothy Legler (@LegsESPN) June 6, 2012
This fake SportsCenter Twitter account took the words right out of Durant's mouth:
Utter hilarity out of James Harden's fake Twitter account:
Seriously, did anyone really believe I wouldn’t put the Thunder in the lead?— James Harden's Beard (@HardenBeard) June 6, 2012
It's certainly starting to seem that way, Thunder fan:
The less i hear Westbrook's name and the more I hear Durrant the better chances the Thunder have of winning.— Sean Tuohy Jr. (@SJTuohy) June 6, 2012
Russell Westbrook made a statement early on for the Thunder with this thunderous dunk.
Grades for Key Thunder Players
Kevin Durant: A+
Durant started slow, but was able to overcome some first-half adversity to put together a pretty impressive final line.
It's no secret that the Thunder need Durant to be at his best if they want to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy at the end of June. It seems that he is up to the challenge.
He finished with 34 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
Russell Westbrook: B+
Even though he finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, it wasn't so much about what Westbrook did tonight—it was about what he didn't do.
Too often we've seen Westbrook take reckless jumpers when it was Durant's time to shine, but that's not what happened here. Westbrook stepped back into a secondary role and let Durant run free. It paid off for is team in the long run.
Grades for Key Spurs Players
Tony Parker: B-
Parker was the best player on the floor for either team...for the first half at least. He had a full stat line by the time halftime came around, filling the box score with 21 points and 10 assists in the first 24 minutes.
The Zombies had no answer for San Antonio's point guard, who ran roughshod on the Thunder in the opening half. But he faltered down the stretch and struggled to get himself going from then on.
He finished with 29 points and 12 assists.
Tim Duncan: B+
Duncan was a force in the post all night. He dominated Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka down low, hitting hook shot after hook shot in the low post.
If this is the last Western Conference finals game Duncan ever plays, he'll be able to say he went out with a bang, as he notched 25 points and 14 boards.
Deciding Factor: The Third Quarter
The Spurs sucked the life out of Chesapeake Energy before half, but the Thunder mounted a furious charge in the third quarter. They outscored the Spurs 32-18, which effectively neutralized the Spurs' 15-point halftime lead.
Durant went absolutely off in the third, scoring 14 points, including a bomb of a three-pointer to give the Thunder a one-point lead.
Game MVP: Kevin Durant
Durant dragged his team back into the game, leading the Thunder in the third quarter and keeping them ahead in the fourth. We've watched him take the next step toward basketball greatness in the 2012 playoffs, and the best may be yet to come.
He's a stone-cold killer out there, and it's going to be one heck of an NBA Finals if he can stay as hot as he's been. By the way, he played all 48 minutes.