Young horses run fast but old horses know the way. That adage proved true on Thursday, May 29, as the Spurs defeated the Thunder 117-89 at the AT&T Center to regain control of the Western Conference Finals with a 3-2 series lead.

Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 22 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, winding back the clock for San Antonio in a must win game five.

“This is the way we’ve been playing all season long and how we need to play to win,” said Duncan after the game on his team’s performance.

The Spurs have now beaten the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals by a combined total of 80 points, an average of 26.7 points per game.

The Spurs played a more physical game against the Thunder than the previous two games, out-rebounding the Thunder 48-35 and outscoring the Thunder on the fast break 14-4.

“It’s (playing physical) a big part of it,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich on his team’s physicality after the game. “You play with passion and determination and it seems there’s this sort of trite notion but sometimes players do and sometimes they don’t. They’re human beings and not automatons.”

San Antonio broke away from the Thunder in the second quarter, out scoring Oklahoma City 33-23 after being tied at 32 at the end of the first. Manu Ginobili added a surge off the bench, with nine points in the second quarter ending the half with 14. Manu would end the game with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds.

“Every game is different,” said Ginobili after the game on his teams will to win. “We reacted better to the loss than they reacted to the win. We were upset, we were disappointed and we came with more fire.”

Before the game Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich added a wrinkle to his lineup, inserting veteran sharpshooter Matt Bonner in place of Tiago Splitter. The switch pulled Thunder center Serge Ibaka — who had been averaging 12 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in games 3 and 4 — out of the paint to free up the Spurs’ inside game. Although Bonner didn’t score a point throughout the contest, the switch was enough to throw the Thunder off their game. Spurs forward Boris Diaw would benefit from the switch, adding 13 points, six rebounds and three assists from the bench.

“Boris shot the ball really well and with Matt being out there it opened up the lane a little bit and spread them out a little,” commented Duncan on the team’s lineup change.

The Spurs now head to Oklahoma City in what is sure to be a tense game five. The Spurs have not beaten the Thunder this season at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“It’s a tough place to play and we’ve lost however many in a row there,” said Duncan on the ensuing game six. “They will be fighting for their lives and its not going to be an easy game for us.”

Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 31.

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