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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Serge Ibaka pointed to the sky, soaking in the cheers from the adoring home crowd moments before coming out of a game that just a few days earlier, he never imagined he could play. Lou Brock Jersey . He scored 15 points in a dramatic return from what was thought to be a season-ending left calf strain, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-97 on Sunday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. Ibaka started after missing the first two games of the series. The Thunder originally said he would miss the rest of the playoffs, but changed course Friday. His presence helped the Thunder dominate and cut the Spurs lead in the series to 2-1. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks took Ibaka out with 3:17 remaining and the Thunder ahead by 20. "When you talk about a teammate, thats everything you want in a teammate," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "I gained so much more respect for Serge for sacrificing himself for the team. Regardless of what happened tonight, thats something you want beside you." Ibaka made six of seven shots and was a threat that gave Durant and Russell Westbrook relief. Westbrook had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds. On defence, Ibaka was a strong physical presence who blocked and altered shots and used his still formidable mobility to close out on shooters. He had seven rebounds, four blocks and a seemingly endless amount of energy. "Serge has put so much work in throughout the season that missing a couple of days didnt hurt him," Westbrook said. "Tonight, he jumped right back into where he was." Manu Ginobili scored 23 points and Tim Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs. Game 4 is Tuesday night at Oklahoma City. The Thunder outrebounded the Spurs 52-36 after losing the battle of the boards in the first two games. San Antonio, which shot at least 50 per cent in the first two games, shot just 40 per cent on Sunday night. The first two games looked like a layup drill for the Spurs. This time, they were forced to reset numerous times. The passes were not as quick or as easy. "I was very disappointed that we didnt come out with more of a foot in the neck sort of attitude," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "They killed us on the boards, they beat us in 50-50 balls and thats very disappointing to me." San Antonio won Game 2 112-77, leaving the Thunder humiliated. "I knew that we were a better team than losing by 30," Brooks said. "Its not us. It was us that night, but were a much better team than that. I have a lot of respect for San Antonio, but theyre not that much better than us." Things were different from the start with Ibakas return. Brooks also inserted speedy Reggie Jackson into the starting lineup in Thabo Sefoloshas place. Jackson finished with 15 points. "We bounced back tonight. We always talk about that bounce-back ability and we had that tonight," Brooks said. The crowd roared when Ibakas name was announced during pregame introductions, and it got even louder when he started playing. He had eight points, three rebounds and two blocks in just over six minutes of play in the first quarter. Twice in the final minute of the first half, Ginobili hit 3-pointers, and both times, Westbrook answered with a 3-pointer. The last one, with 0.6 seconds left, gave the Thunder a 57-53 lead. Oklahoma City shot 56 per cent in the first half but turned the ball over 12 times. Ginobili had 20 points and made 5 of 7 3-pointers before the break to keep the Spurs close. Oklahoma City extended its lead to 83-76 at the end of the third quarter. A runner by Durant, then a 3-pointer by Caron Butler pushed the Thunder lead to 90-76 with just over 10 minutes to play. "Hopefully we realize that if were not intense, not very sharp and dont hustle like crazy, were not going to win here," Ginobili said. "They showed us reality. Hopefully we react in game four and play a much better game." Notes: Thunder C Kendrick Perkins picked up his third foul eight minutes into the game. He played just 13 minutes and finished with four points and three rebounds. Backup centre Steven Adams, a rookie, had seven points and nine rebounds. ... Thunder G Derek Fisher took a hit and was bleeding from the top of his head in the first quarter. He got six stitches. ... The Thunder shot 63 per cent from the field in the first quarter but trailed 29-28 at the end of the period. ... Ginobili scored just three points in the second half. Whitey Herzog Jersey . "Weve given ourselves now a tougher task," said Carlyle after the Friday practice, the Toronto head coach notably chipper and upbeat throughout. "But the bottom line is we just have to win our share of games [and] not worry about what anybody else is doing. St. Louis Cardinals Hats . This time, it was Eric Chavezs turn. Stuck in a rut since coming off the disabled list, Chavez hit the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning for a run-scoring single, sending the Diamondbacks to another walk-off victory, 4-3 over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees on Monday for a player to be named. Stewart and the Pirates then agreed to a $1 million, one-year deal. The 31-year-old Stewart hit .211 with four home runs and 25 RBIs in a career-high 109 games for New York in 2013. He threw out 17 runners, the fifth-highest total in the American League. To make room for Stewart on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated catcher Michael McKenry for assignment -- they then non-tendered McKenry before the midnight deadline. McKenry hit .217 in 41 games last season for Pittsburgh before tearing cartilage in his left knee in July. Stewart will contend with former first-round pick Tony Sanchez as the primary backup to ex-Yankee Russell Martin when spring training opens in February. Stewart because expendable to the Yankees when they agreed Nov. 23 to an $85 million, five-year contract with Brian McCCann, a deal likely to be finalized this week. Bob Gibson Cardinals Jersey. After making $515,100 this year, Stewart is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time. Teams faced a midnight deadline to offer 2014 contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters. Pittsburgh chose to let go first baseman Garrett Jones and right-hander Kyle McPherson. Both had been designated for assignment last week, when the Pirates acquired outfielder Jaff Decker and right-hander Miles Mikolas from the Padres. Jones hit .233 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs in 144 games this year. The 32-year-old played at least 144 games each of the last four seasons for Pittsburgh. McPherson was 0-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 10 games in 2012. He had ligament reconstruction surgery on his right elbow this July. Francisco Cervelli, who figures to be the McCanns backup, didnt play after April 26 because of a broken hand. He also served a 50-game drug suspension. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '

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