Special to ESPN.com
20-POINT WIN GIVES THUNDER NEW HOPE
From Elias: Of all the nay-saying in sports, we've often thought that top honors go to teams that trail, two games to none, in a postseason series. "It's all over." "They don't belong on the same court (field, ice)." "Call the series off right now." And so forth. And yet - if the team trailing two games to none just wins the next game - well, the series, at two games to one, is as close as a series can be after three games.
The Thunder taught that lesson anew by pinning the first loss of these playoffs on the Spurs, 102-82, on Thursday night. However, none of the last six NBA teams with a win like that - by 20-or-more points in Game Three when trailing in the series, two games to none - went on to win the series. The last team that won a playoff series after being in a two-games-to-none hole and winning Game Three by a 20-point margin? The Lakers, in a 2004 Western Conference Semifinals series, when they used a 105-81 victory in Game Three as a springboard to win four in a row - over Gregg Popovich's Spurs.
SIX STEALS FOR SEFOLOSHA
From Elias: Thabo Sefolosha recorded six steals for the Thunder in their 102-82 win over the Spurs. That's the highest playoff steal total for the franchise since Gary Payton had six for Seattle against Utah on May 3, 2000. It was the most steals by any player in a postseason game against San Antonio since Dirk Nowitzki had six on May 14, 2001.
"BIG THREE" STRUGGLE BUT THUNDER WIN BY 20
From Elias: The Thunder won by 20 points despite uninspiring shooting performances from their "Big Three." Kevin Durant shot 8 for 17 from the field, Russell Westbrook was 5 for 15 and James Harden went 5 for 10. Oklahoma City had been 4-8 all-time in playoff games in which all three stars played and none shot higher than 50 percent. And only once had they won such a playoff game by more than 10 points: a 27-point second-round win over the Grizzlies in 2011.
GONZALEZ EXTENDS HOME RUN STREAK TO FOUR STRAIGHT PAs
From Elias: Carlos Gonzalez homered in the first inning of the Rockies' game against the Astros at Coors Field on Thursday, after going deep in each of his last three trips to the plate in Colorado's 13-5 win over Houston on Wednesday. The only other active major-league player to hit home runs in each of four consecutive plate appearances is Albert Pujols, who did so for the Cardinals in 2006 (April 16-17). Andruw Jones is the only other active player with home runs in four consecutive at-bats (Sept. 7-10, 2002 for Atlanta; he was hit by a pitch between the third and fourth home runs).
BUD NORRIS ENDS MAY ON A SOUR NOTE
From Elias: May was one day too long for Houston's Bud Norris, who allowed nine runs, all earned, while recording only five outs in his start against the Rockies in Denver. Norris, who entered the last day in May with a 4-0 record and a major league-low 1.17 earned-run average this month, had never allowed more than seven runs or earned runs in any previous game in his big-league career.
SCHERZER EARNS A PIECE OF TIGERS HISTORY
From Elias: Max Scherzer, who struck out six batters in six innings in his win at Boston on Thursday, was 4-0 with 51 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings in six games in May. It's only the fourth time that a Tigers pitcher has posted an unbeaten record with at least four wins and 50 strikeouts in a calendar month. Jack Morris was the first Detroit pitcher to do that (August 1983, 6-0, 56 SO) and Justin Verlander has done it twice (May 2009: 5-0, 56 SO; June 2011: 6-0, 54 SO).