Spurs go on road, down Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY — This time, the San Antonio Spurs made the hustle play they needed to beat the Thunder.
Kawhi Leonard's critical offensive rebound of LaMarcus Aldridge's miss led to two free throws by Tony Parker with 18 seconds left that put the Spurs ahead by four, and San Antonio hung on to beat Oklahoma City 100-96 on Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.
Leonard had 31 points and 11 rebounds, but his final rebound was the most important mark on the stat sheet. In his typical understated style, the All-Star forward made it seem like no big deal.
"I just attacked the glass and jumped and grabbed it," he said.
That might seem simple enough, but it didn't work out that way in the Spurs' previous game. In Monday's loss to the Thunder at home, the Spurs couldn't come up with the ball in a scramble near their basket in the closing seconds, and the Thunder escaped with a 98-97 win. On Friday, Leonard's rebound helped seal it.
"It was a backbreaker," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "We played good defense and were down seven with a minute to go and cut it to two. We made him (Aldridge) miss his shot, and the ball kind of fell in his (Leonard's) hands. He was in great position to get the rebound, and that sucks."
Aldridge had 24 points and eight rebounds and Parker added 19 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs, who regained the home-court advantage they had surrendered with the loss in Game 2.
Russell Westbrook scored 31 points for the Thunder, but he made just 10 of 31 shots.
"Too many shots," Westbrook said. "I've got to do a better job getting guys shots. I've got to get other guys involved, especially to beat this team. Even though I had some shots I (usually) make, I've got to read and find ways to get guys shots. I take the blame."
The Spurs said it was a collective effort to slow Westbrook.
"We know he's going to be very aggressive," Parker said. "They go down, we know he's going to be extra aggressive, so we just make sure that everybody's paying attention to weak side defense. He's coming at us. That's who he is. He's got a lot of energy, and he's just going to keep attacking."
Westbrook also had nine rebounds and eight assists. Durant scored 26 points, Serge Ibaka added 15 and Steven Adams had 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder shot just 41.5 percent from the field.
Game 4 will be Sunday in Oklahoma City.
CAVALIERS 121, HAWKS 108: At Atlanta, Channing Frye scored a career playoff-high 27 points and Cleveland kept up its 3-point barrage, pulling away in the closing minutes for a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Two nights after setting an NBA record with 25 baskets beyond the arc, the Cavaliers were nearly as good in a 21-of-39 performance from long range that moved them within one victory of their second playoff sweep over the Hawks in two years.
Atlanta turned in a much more respectable showing after getting blown out in Game 2. But in the end, it was the same result for a team that has lost 10 straight to the Cavaliers going back to last year's conference final.
The Hawks led by as many as 11 but were dominated in the closing minutes.
Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each scored 24 points, while Kevin Love chipped in 21.
Game 4 is Sunday in Atlanta.