Tuesday, May 29 at 8:08 AM
While video of Coach Gregg Popovich's "I want some nasty" timeout rant went viral Monday, the Spurs gathered at their practice facility and went about the business of preparing for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
To hear the Spurs tell it, Popovich's tirade early in the fourth quarter of their 101-98 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder in their series opener Sunday night was tame compared to others he's unloaded on them through the years.
"We've heard that a lot," said guard Manu Ginobili, who led the Spurs with 26 points in Game 1. "Sometimes in the locker room, when nobody else hears it. And with different words, too. We were not surprised."
Popovich's fiery exhortations obviously shook the Spurs out of their malaise. The scolding also could go a long way toward defining the series between the top two seeds in the Western Conference.
Trailing 71-62 after three quarters, the Spurs outscored the Thunder 39-27 in the fourth period and made some critical stops down the stretch to win their 19th consecutive game.
The victory tied the NBA record for the longest winning streak sustained in the playoffs, set by the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers, who won the league title that season.
The Spurs and Thunder clash in Game 2 at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the AT&T Center.
Jackson: 'Nasty is how I like to play'
Oklahoma City led by nine points in Game 1 when a red-faced Popovich tore into his players for their lack of aggressiveness. TNT, which broadcast the game nationally, captured Coach Pop's outburst word for word.
"Are we having fun yet?" Popovich asked sarcastically. "I need a little bit more dose of nasty. I'm seeing a little bit of unconfidence, a little hesitation. It's not supposed to be easy. Every round gets tougher. Penetrate hard. Good passes. Shoot with confidence. I want some nasty."
The Spurs responded with their characteristic poise and efficiency.
Backup forward Stephen Jackson, who keeps the Spurs loose with his jocularity and swagger, liked the way Popovich admonished the team.
"I like nasty," Jackson said. "I mean, I was raised playing that way. Nasty is how I like to play. If you don't like to get bumped or knocked down, or get a little blood in this game, you're not having fun. This is the Western Conference finals, so this is what it's about."
Popovich was succinct Monday when he was asked about his now-famous timeout elocution.
"I just wanted us to get off our heels," he said.
After making only 6 of 24 shots and scoring 16 points in the third quarter, the Silver & Black hit 12 of 16 attempts from the field, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range, in the final period.
Turnovers bedeviled Spurs in first half of Game 1
Ginobili led the rally with 11 points, making all three of his field-goal attempts and going 5 for 5 at the free-throw line.
"He's a pretty special guy," Popovich said.
Ginobili still may have carried the Spurs without hearing Popovich's timeout rant, but a little prodding never hurt anybody.
So have the Spurs discussed the importance of going nasty earlier in Game 2, instead of waiting until the fourth quarter?
"I don't think it's something you need to talk (about)," Ginobili said. "We are in the conference finals and we believe that it has to be there every game if you want to make it. So Pop was seeing that we were lacking that and he communicated his way. But it's something we've got to do all the time.
"That was probably the reason why we went 10 (actually, nine) down. They were being more aggressive than us. They were getting the loose balls and we were turning the ball over a lot. So many things were going wrong and in the fourth quarter we kind of solved them."
The Spurs finished with 17 turnovers, but had only three in the second half.
Jackson big contributor in Game 1 victory
Jackson, who played with Ginobili on the 2002-03 Spurs team that won the NBA championship, credited Popovich for jump-starting the squad with his tongue lashing.
"There's different ways of coaching," Jackson said. "Pop is a guy who's good at getting guys ready to play as far as game plan and as far as intensity. But sometimes, he might go outside the circle and say some things that you won't expect him to say.
"Being nasty, I think a lot of people took it a lot of different ways. But we know exactly what he meant. We have to play hard and be more confident in ourselves. We took heed to it."
Jackson played a key role in the Game 1 victory, hitting a 3-pointer that gave the Spurs a 91-84 lead with 3:02 left and playing solid defense against high-scoring Thunder forward Kevin Durant.
Durant had a game-high 27 points but he had only six in the fourth quarter, all from the foul line. Hounded relentlessly by Jackson and the Spurs' team defense, Durant took just two shots in the pivotal final period.
"Just try to make it difficult," Jackson said Monday, when asked what he tries to do when he's guarding Durant. "Can't stop him. I don't think we even came into the game trying to stop him because it's impossible to stop him. We just want to make it difficult, not let him go the directions he wants to go. Let him know we're there on his shots.
"Be physical with him. He doesn't get rattled. He keeps his composure. He's sort of like Tim Duncan at that. I'm still going to make it difficult for him and play as hard as I can."
With a victory Tuesday night, the Spurs would become only the fourth team in NBA history to win at least 20 consecutive games.
Western Conference finals
Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
(Spurs lead best-of-7 series 1-0)
Game 1: at San Antonio, Spurs 101, Thunder 98
Game 2: at San Antonio, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Game 3: at Oklahoma City, Thursday, 8 p.m.
Game 4: at Oklahoma City, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 5: at San Antonio, Monday, June 4, 8 p.m.
*Game 6: at Oklahoma City, Wednesday, June 6, 8 p.m.
*Game 7: at San Antonio, Friday, June 8, 8 p.m.
All times Central
* If necessary