He was no longer a pudgy, past-his-prime reserve forward Thursday night during a spine-tingling sequence in the second quarter, elevating to block a dunk attempt by Kevin Durant.
Diaw then gave up what looked like an easy shot underneath the basket on the
It epitomized the kind of heady play and nonstop energy the Spurs needed to turn back the
"He's been scoring the ball really well," San Antonio forward
Diaw's statistics were fairly modest, the veteran finishing with 13 points, six rebounds and one block. But his floor-spacing presence and unselfishness helped the Spurs get back to their brand of basketball after a pair of sluggish defeats.
They will take a 3-2 lead into Game 6 on Saturday in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder has defeated the Spurs nine consecutive times.
Duncan had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and
"This is the craziest series I've ever been involved in," Duncan said.
Durant scored 25 points and
With the Spurs comfortably ahead, Westbrook sat out the game's final 8 minutes 50 seconds, joining Durant on the bench.
San Antonio Coach
"Make more baskets," Popovich said. "Don't turn it over. Those would be two good places to start."
San Antonio did both. The Spurs committed only 12 turnovers and made 39 of 76 shots (51.3%), including 13 of 26 (50%) from beyond the three-point arc, their efficiency limiting the Thunder to four fastbreak points.
"They spread us out, hit threes and we were late," Durant said. "We were just a step slow."
Diaw's strong play in the second quarter prompted Popovich to reinsert him to start the third quarter, when the Spurs turned a competitive game into a 20-point rout.
It almost seemed as if it were 2006 again as the 32-year-old Diaw found Duncan underneath the basket for a layup and then Leonard in the corner for the three-pointer. Diaw explained he was merely fulfilling Popovich's mandate of going from "good to great" opportunities.