NBA: Russell Westbrook, Thunder tie up Spurs in Game 4 rout

11:58 p.m. EDT May 27, 2014  OKLAHOMA CITY — Midway through the third quarter of the Oklahoma City Thunder's Game 4 rout of the San Antonio Spurs in these Western Conference finals, a debate broke out on press row that said

everything about the drastic turn of events that continued on Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The question: Has Gregg Popovich ever looked so mad?

By the time the 105-92 game that tied the series 2-2 was over, he wasn't alone. Tony Parker, who played only six minutes in the second half, when Popovich benched his starters, sat stone-faced as he watched the one-sided affair unfold. Tim Duncan, who had a meltdown moment of his own in the third quarter when he could be seen flailing his arms and yelling toward coaches and guard Danny Green about the latest defensive mix-up, had gone from stoic to steamed as he sat helpless on the sideline. They had every reason to be angry, not to mention worried.

Oklahoma City's win was its 12th in the last 14 games against the Spurs in which Thunder forward Serge Ibaka played, meaning this matchup is suddenly looking as one-sided as it did when the Spurs dominated those first two games in San Antonio while he was out with a calf strain. And after his dramatic return in Game 3 reminded the masses that he's the Jenga piece this Thunder puzzle just can't live without, the formula that has been so perplexing for the Spurs proved itself yet again.

The Spurs talked endlessly after Game 3 about the need to be more aggressive, but it was Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook who came at them like only he can in a 40-point, 10-rebound, five-assist, five-steal performance that was one of the best of his dynamic career. MVP Kevin Durant had his first MVP-type performance of the series, scoring 22 of his 33 points in a first half in which the Thunder led 58-43 while hitting 11 of 22 shots.

 

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