SAN ANTONIO — The home-court advantage looms gigantic so far in the Western Conference finals.
After blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first two games of the series at home, the San Antonio Spurs lost twice on the road.
The Spurs returned to the friendly confines of the AT&T Center to thump the Thunder 117-89 Thursday night, emphatically taking a 3-2 series lead.
With a win Saturday in Game 6, San Antonio would reach the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Games 4 and 5 were near polar opposites.
Spurs forward Tim Duncan and guard Manu Ginobli — who combined for 14 points in Tuesday’s Game 4 defeat — scored 22 and 19 points, respectively, in Game 5.
Forward Kevin Durant scored a game-high 25 points for Oklahoma City, and guard Russell Westbrook chipped in 21, but the duo didn’t come close to the 71 combined points they put up two days earlier.
Forward Serge Ibaka breathed new life into the Thunder when he returned for Game 3 from a calf injury that was originally expected to sideline him for the remainder of the postseason. However, Ibaka was a non-factor Thursday, scoring just six points on 3-of-10 shooting and grabbing only two rebounds.
San Antonio, which beat the Thunder with Ibaka on the floor for the first time this season, outscored Oklahoma City 40-34 in the paint.
The Spurs scored early and often, shooting 61 percent from the floor while knocking down eight of their 14 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half. San Antonio finished 13-for-26 from long range.
The Thunder, who hit just six of 24 3-point attempts, trailed 65-55 at halftime and never recovered.
The winner of Game 5 in a best-of-seven series tied at two games apiece has gone on to win that series 82 percent of the time. However, Oklahoma City beat the odds against San Antonio before, overcoming an 0-2 deficit in the 2012 Western Conference Finals by reeling off four straight wins.
The Thunder won’t do that this time around, but they still have a chance to reach the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons. They play an elimination game Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where they have a nine-game winning streak against San Antonio.
NOTES: Thunder G Reggie Jackson remained in the starting lineup despite spraining his right ankle in the first quarter of Tuesday’s Game 4 win. Jackson scored all 11 of his points in the first quarter, his best output in a quarter since he had 11 of his career-high 32 points in the second quarter of a first-round, overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on April 26. … Spurs F Matt Bonner, who was averaging fewer than five minutes per game in the postseason before Thursday, started in place of Tiago Splitter. It was Bonner’s first start of the year and the first time the Spurs used a different starting lineup during the postseason. … San Antonio connected on its last eight shots from the field in the first quarter, ending the quarter on a 10-4 run to tie the score at 32.
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