Warriors get their Rings and their First win on Opening Night, defeat Thunder 108-100.
The Golden State Warriors started their quest to three-peat as NBA champions on Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the Thunder were short handed as their MVP point guard was injured and sitting out for the game, there was still no shortage of energy as the Warriors received their championship rings prior to the game. The Warriors were looking to get their season started on the right note for the first time in three years, while the Thunder were looking to prove themselves against the top dogs. The Warriors went on to win the game 108-100.
The Warriors scored the first points of the season on a corner three from Stephen Curry, and that is how all games should start for the rest of time. The Warriors got off to a hot start following that three, and at the time of the first time out, they were shooting 85.7% from the floor. KD had a couple sweet drives to the basket for complicated layups, Klay made a three, Steph got a floater to fall, but the most exciting points of the opening minutes came on a sky-high lob to Damian Jones from Draymond Green. The opening minutes weren’t perfect, as both teams were committing a lot of turnovers, but the Warriors defense was solid, and they led the Thunder at the first time out, 15-8. The scoring balanced itself out after that initial timeout, but the Thunder did make up some ground. They did so with some free throws and a three from Dennis Schroder, and they were benefiting from some bad turnovers from Golden State. When the second timeout of the quarter was called with 4:34 left in the quarter, the Warriors led 20-16, but they had already committed five turnovers. The rest of the first quarter was coming up all Golden State. Their lead doubled from four points to eight points, and it did so thanks to another wide-open corner three from Stephen Curry and some nice plays from Kevin Durant. The Thunder didn’t have a good offensive quarter by any metric, and they ended the period shooting 26.1% from the floor, and their leading scorer had six points. The Warriors shot 52% from the floor and 50% from three, but they did commit six turnovers. The Warriors led after the first quarter 31-23, and Stephen Curry was the game’s leading scorer with 12 points with KD close behind adding 10 points of his own.
The game was slow in the beginning of the second quarter, with both teams stalling on offense. The Thunder scored first in the quarter thanks to some free throws, but Klay Thompson then converted on an and-1. The flow of the game was very choppy, with neither team really grabbing momentum. The Warriors did have some highlights plays though, Quinn Cook made his first three of the year and Jordan Bell had a very nice block. The lead did grow before the first timeout of the quarter was called, and at the timeout the Warriors led 39-29. The Thunder came out of the timeout and cut the lead back to five points, but the Warriors bounced back to extend the lead once again. Stephen Curry made another three, and this was a perfect, high-arcing three when he was doubled on the wing. He also made a couple more free throws on a phantom foul from Dennis Schroder. The Warriors still didn't’ look fluid on offense, but the lack of any semblance of consistent offense or defense from the Thunder made them look a lot better than they were playing. When the next timeout was called the Warriors had a 13-point lead, and the score was 52-39. The team then traded baskets and free throws to close out the half, and the Oklahoma City Thunder cut the Warriors lead to 10-points. At halftime, the Warriors led the Thunder 57-47.
The game’s leading scorer at halftime was Stephen Curry, who had 19 points and was a perfect 3/3 from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant added 15 points, and Klay Thompson had 10. As a team the Warriors combined to shoot 47.6% from the floor and 41.7% from behind the three-point line. They had a rough half in terms of turnovers, as they had 13 of them by the time they headed to the locker rooms. Dennis Schroder was the leading scorer for the Thunder with 12 points, and Steven Adams added nine points of his own. Paul George was virtually nonexistent in the half, scoring just six points on 1/8 shooting (0/5 from three). The Thunder combined to shoot just 31.2% from the floor and 18.8% from three. Both teams were struggling with turnovers, but the Thunder had only nine to the Warriors 13, so that was a plus for them.
The Thunder came out in the third quarter and Paul George immediately caught fire to cut the Warriors lead to just three points, but then Stephen Curry righted the ship by hitting his fourth three of the game. Of course when I say that he righted the ship I don’t mean it, because the Thunder then proceeded to take the lead behind the scorching hot hand of Paul George and a three from Dennis Schroder. The Thunder’s sudden explosion forced a quick timeout from Steve Kerr as the Thunder led 69-66 with 7:16 left in the quarter. The Warriors came out of the timeout and scored on a dunk from Damian Jones and then took the lead on a dunk from KD. The two teams then traded buckets before Steph drained his fifth three of the game to put the Warriors up by four. The four-point lead drove the Thunder to call a timeout after the Warriors had the strangest possession of the NBA season. The timeout was called with 4:30 left in the third and the Warriors leading 75-71. The Thunder came back out of that timeout and tied the game once again on a Paul George three, but the Warriors took a four-point lead with some nice lay-ins on the next two possessions. The teams then traded baskets for the last few minutes before the quarter ended. After the third quarter the Warriors led the Thunder 83-79. Stephen Curry was still the game’s leading scorer with 27 points, but he also added eight rebounds and seven assists. Paul George exploded for the thunder and ended the quarter with 21 points. The Warriors turnover count was up to 16, and the Thunder’s was up to 11. As a team the Warriors were shooting 45.1% from the floor and 33.3% from three, while the Thunder shot 37% from the field and 29% from three.
After some Thunder free throws got the fourth quarter started, Klay Thompson nailed a three, but the Thunder tied the game once again. Neither team really got much momentum going early in the quarter, and timeout was called with 8:47 left in the game and the Warriors leading 89-87. The two teams then continued to scratch and claw for the next five minutes, with the Warriors gaining a little bit of momentum for a short stretch, but the game was still choppy due to turnovers and constant fouling. Kevon Looney and Damian Jones had some nice plays though. Timeout was called with 3:05 left in the game and the Warriors winning 99-94. The Rockets cut into the lead after timeout by making 3/4 free throws before Stephen Curry responded by converting on an and-1 push shot to give the Warriors a five-point lead. Steven Adams and Kevon Looney then traded buckets before Kevin Durant converted on a tough layup to give the Warriors a seven-point lead with 24 seconds to play. Kevin Durant then nailed two free throws before Paul George went 1/2 from the line before the clock expired. The Warriors hung on to win the game 108-100.
Stephen Curry finished as the game’s leading scorer with 32 points on 11/20 shooting while grabbing eight boards and dishing out nine assists. Kevin Durant added 27 points on 9/21 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists. Klay Thompson had a rough night with 14 points on 5/20 shooting, but Damian Jones and Kevon Looney were bright spots for the team, combining for 22 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks. The team combined to shoot 44.2% from the floor and 26.9% from three. They were just ice cold in the second half, especially from three. The Warriors also finished the game with 20 turnovers, which I will go out on a limb and say is an unsustainable number if they want to keep winning games.
Paul George caught fire in the second half and led the Thunder in scoring, finishing with 27 points on 9/23 shooting. Dennis Schroder added 23 of his own, and Steven Adams had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Thunder combined to shoot 36.3% from the floor and 27% from three while committing 14 turnovers.
This game was incredibly choppy, especially in the second half. The Warriors committed 29 personal fouls, and the Thunder committed 21 of them. The Thunder shot 37 free throws to the Warriors 18. This was a rough sowing from both teams, but hey, a win’s a win and you take them when you can get them.
This game marked the first time the Golden State Warriors won on opening night in the last three seasons, and while they did win, they definitely have a lot to improve upon before their next game.
The Warriors play next on Friday, October 19 in Utah against the Jazz at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN.