Spurs keep streaking with late rally

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
12:08
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By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesManu Ginobili scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Spurs rally from a 9-point deficit in Game 1.
The San Antonio Spurs needed a fourth quarter rally to overcome the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 to keep its playoff winning streak alive.

San Antonio has now won its first nine games to start the postseason. Only two teams have a longer streak to start the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers won their first 11 games during the 1989 and 2001 playoffs. Both those teams made it to the NBA Finals, but only the 2001 edition won the title.

The last three teams to win their first eight playoff games had lost the opener of the Conference Finals on their way to dropping the series. The last winner before the Spurs was the previously mentioned Lakers squad.

The nine-game postseason winning streak is the second-longest in Spurs history. They won 12 straight on their way to their first title in 1999.

Dating back to the regular season, the Spurs have won 19 straight games. That’s the longest winning streak in franchise history. Their previous record was a 17-game streak during the 1996 regular season.

The Spurs trailed by one point at the end of the first half, largely due to problems holding on to the ball. They committed 14 turnovers in the first half, tying their most in the opening 24 minutes this season, which led to 13 points for the Thunder. After the intermission, the Spurs only turned the ball over three times resulting in a single bucket.

San Antonio was nine points behind entering the fourth quarter, but turned it around over the final 12 minutes by getting the ball into the paint. The Spurs outscored the Thunder 16-2 in the paint in the final quarter as they outscored Oklahoma City 39-27.

In the 24 minutes Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were on the court together, the Spurs outscored the Thunder by 14 points. In the other 24 minutes, they were outscored by 11 points. The biggest difference was on the defensive end, where the Spurs held the Thunder to 18 fewer points with the trio on the court.

The Spurs have won their last two games by three points after winning six of their first seven playoff games by double digits. This was the first time they won by less than 15 at home this postseason.

The Spurs have rarely needed to score many points in the fourth quarter. Their 39 points were the most in a fourth quarter since Feb. 13, 2008, when they scored 41 in a comeback win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

All three of the big names for the Thunder struggled in Game 1. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden all missed more than half their shots. Durant failed to make a fourth-quarter field goal for just the third time in his postseason career.

Dating to its time in Seattle, the Thunder franchise has lost each of the last ten playoff series openers that it played on the road. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the third-longest active losing streak of its kind in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks have dropped 15 straight Game 1s on the road and the Cleveland Cavaliers have dropped 14 straight.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com

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