|Date of game: 5/31/2014
Recap: Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio
Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Gregg Popovich stood in the back of the room while his players accepted yet another trophy as Western Conference champions.
Later, the San Antonio Spurs coach said his team has grown since losing to the Miami Heat in last year's NBA Finals.
They'll have a chance to show how much.
This year's finals will be a rematch.
"We're happy to be back this year. We're happy to have another opportunity at it. We're happy it's the Heat again," said Spurs forward Tim Duncan. "We'll be ready for them.
"We've got that bad taste in our mouth from last time."
Duncan scored seven of his 19 points in overtime, Boris Diaw led the way with 26 points off the bench and the Spurs beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday night.
The Spurs became the first road team to win a game in the series and advanced to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in 17 years under Popovich.
They've lost just once in that time, to LeBron James and the Heat last year, when Miami walked away with its second straight title after taking Game 7 at home.
The Spurs will have home-court advantage this time, beginning with Game 1 on Thursday night.
"They grew from the loss last year," said Popovich. "I call it fortitude. I thought they showed an awful lot of fortitude ... to come back this year and get into the same position."
They sealed the deal without point guard Tony Parker, who was sidelined after halftime because of a sore left ankle.
Despite missing Parker, the Spurs outscored the Thunder 37-20 in the third quarter and had a 12-point lead early in the fourth.
Oklahoma City forced overtime in part due to an 8-0 run late in regulation.
During the flurry, the Thunder took the lead on Kevin Durant's layin with 32 seconds left. The basket came after Serge Ibaka blocked Manu Ginobili at the other end -- a play that surely would have been controversial after replays showed the block came after the ball hit the backboard.
But the Spurs won. Afterward, Popovich didn't have anything to say about the non-goaltending call.
Duncan, who had 15 rebounds, scored seven straight Spurs points in overtime to give them a 110-107 lead with 19.4 seconds left. Diaw added a free throw to make it a four-point game and Russell Westbrook missed a wild shot off the top of the backboard at the other end.
"We settled for too many jump shots and we turned the ball over," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "Defensively they had us scrambling around. And they made some big plays."
Prior to Saturday, the home team had won each of the first five games in the series by an average of 20.4 points. The closest game had been the Thunder's nine-point win in Game 3.
Parker had eight points, zero assists and two turnovers in almost 19 minutes in the first half. The 13-year veteran dealt with a strained left hamstring earlier in the playoffs.
Ginobili said Popovich came to him before the game started and told him he might have to play point guard because Parker was sore.
"Three minutes before the game. I didn't even know," said Ginobili, who scored 15 off the bench.
Kawhi Leonard had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs and came up with a strip-block of Westbrook that led to Duncan's baseline shot in overtime for a three-point lead.
The Thunder, trying to make it back to the finals for the first time since falling to Miami in 2012, were led by Westbrook's 34 points, eight assists and six steals. Durant scored 31 with 14 rebounds, Reggie Jackson had 21 points and Ibaka added 16 with four blocks.
San Antonio's big third quarter was punctuated by Danny Green's four-point play with 1.2 seconds remaining after Durant crashed into him on the right wing.
It was part of a 15-2 run that gave the Spurs their 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
They led by six with 2:28 remaining but Westbrook keyed the Thunder's 8-0 run with a layup off a steal. Durant's go-ahead layin was followed by Ginobili's straightaway 3-pointer to put the Spurs back on top. He added a free throw after Durant slipped at the other end, giving the ball away, but the Thunder tied it at 101-101 on Westbrook's free throws with 9.3 seconds left.
Ginobili missed a jumper on the last play of regulation with a chance to win it. (Duncan caught the rebound and fired off a shot in one motion. It went in, but after the buzzer.)
Durant and Westbrook both scored 15 in the first half but the Thunder didn't get a point from their bench. Still, they had a seven-point lead during the first quarter and used an 11-2 run in the second to erase a four-point deficit on the way to a 49-42 lead at halftime.Game Notes
There were 11 lead changes and 10 ties in the first three quarters ... Miami
finished off Indiana with a Game 6 rout on Friday night to clinch its fourth
straight Eastern Conference championship ... The Spurs improved to 3-5 on the
road in these playoffs. They are 9-1 at home.