Corporate Knowledge: Serge the Savior (or something)

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Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated: “In a single night, the 6-foot-10 power forward fixed Oklahoma City’s offense, transformed its team defense, garnered newfound respect from longtime teammates, and breathed new life into a Western Conference finals that seemed on the verge of a possible sweep. His presence on the court — cheered raucously throughout — was the major driver behind the Thunder’s 106-97 victory over the Spurs in Game 3, a contest that saw the series’ vanquished become the vanquisher. It may be going too far to say Ibaka’s memorable night — all 15 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and dozens of limps — swung the momentum to Oklahoma City’s side, but his impact prevented the Thunder from staring down a nearly impossible 3-0 deficit.”

Austin Gilly, Pounding the Rock: “The Spurs shot half as many free throws as the Thunder, going 15-of-16 while the Thunder went 26-of-31. You can question the refs, but the Spurs just weren’t aggressive. Tony settled for long jumpers (going 4-of-13 for nine points,) and so did most of the team. There are some nights when the shots just don’t fall, and at times tonight felt like one of those nights. Aggression becomes key when the shots don’t fall, and there was a lack of it not only in the Spurs’ actions, but also in their eyes. “

Dan McCarney, MySA: “Boosted both emotionally and practically by the return of their two-way forward after a two-game absence, the Thunder survived Manu Ginobili’s first-half onslaught before tearing away down the stretch. Ginobili finished with 23 points and was the lone Spur who deserved to hold his head high after a sluggish performance in which they played with surprisingly little effort and executed poorly on both ends.”

J.A. Adande, ESPN: “Parker’s drop-off is an ominous sign for the Spurs because it was at the heart of their collapse in the 2012 Western Conference finals. That year, Parker went from scoring 34 points in Game 2 to 16 in Game 3, then shot below 40 percent in Games 4 and 5. By the time he recovered to score 29 points in Game 6 it was too late; the Thunder had been given new life and couldn’t be restrained. The machines in the “Terminator” saga had become self-aware. The composition of these two teams isn’t exactly the same, but the personalities seem unchanged.”

Royce Young, ESPN: “It was going to be a matter of pain tolerance, and as Ibaka said over the weekend, he’s a tough guy. Because he had to be. The third-youngest of 18 children, Ibaka lost his mother and saw his father imprisoned during the Second Congo War, using basketball as his escape from a different kind of pain. So playing on a bum calf? That’s nothing.”

Zach Harper, CBS Sports: “The Spurs will need his craftiness and his overall skill if they’re going to get back to the Finals to attempt to avenge their seven-game loss to the Miami Heat. They’re going to have to keep proving age isn’t what defines this team and that their incredible skill and discipline are what fuels the success. Ginobili coming back better than the previous year when he could have just slid into the twilight years of his career exemplify the Spurs’ defiance to grow old as a basketball team.”

Mike Prada, SB Nation: “Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is never one to pass on an opportunity to throw shade, of course. This is how he responded when asked about Manu Ginobili not playing in the fourth quarter…”