Blog: Season 1

Jackson Williams, a sports enthusiast, writes about all things sports. 

Sportzball: Season 1

Kevin Durant Blasts Former Team, Warriors beat OKC 112-80.

After outlasting the Clippers in a 134-127 win on Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors (45-14) continued their homestand with a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (34-26). This was the third matchup between the two teams in the 2017-18 NBA season, and the Warriors would be looking to beat them for the first time. The Thunder were coming off of a last-second win over the Sacramento Kings, and were looking to build momentum down the stretch and into the playoffs. The Warriors were looking to play a much better game than in the first two matchups, where they turned the ball over constantly and shot the ball very poorly. The game looked to be one of the most exciting games of the season, and one of the best matchups of the second half. The Warriors went on to win the game, 112-80.

Both teams started off the first quarter shooting the ball pretty poorly. When the first timeout of the game was called after five minutes, both teams were shooting less than 30% from the field. The Warriors got their offense going at the start of the game with a alley-oop to JaVale McGee. The Warriors were getting a lot of open shots for Klay Thompson early, but he missed all but one of them. Stephen Curry got himself started with a quick three in the face of the defense. The Thunder were having a lot harder time shooting the ball than the Warriors, and their only points came when they were close to the hoop. Both teams were playing solid defense to start the game, and that continued after the timeout. JaVale McGee had a particularly good defensive play in which he was able to block a layup from Paul George after a turnover from Stephen Curry, and then he proceeded to force two more misses from the Thunder on the same possession. The Thunder were missing most of their shots, as were the Warriors, but they were scoring a lot on second-chance attempts. As the quarter came to a close, both teams were still shooting the ball terribly. The Warriors were playing solid defense throughout the entire quarter, whereas the Thunder’s defense faltered and the Warriors found themselves with many more open shots than they had early in the game. The Warriors finished the quarter shooting 40.9%, while the Thunder were shooting just 21.4% from the floor. For the Warriors, both KD and Steph had six points to lead the team, while OKC was led by Russell Westbrook, who had seven points. After the first quarter, the Warriors led the Thunder 24-19.

The second quarter started off with the Thunder coming back to grab a quick lead, and both teams were going back-and-forth for the first five minutes of the quarter. The Warriors still were missing many wide-open shots, and by the time the first timeout was called in the quarter, Klay Thompson was 0-6 from three, and almost all of them were wide-open looks. The Thunder had gotten a nice jolt of offense from the bench in the form of Raymond Felton, who had eight points in just four minutes of play. With just over seven minutes left in the quarter, there had already been 14 lead changes. With just over five minutes left in the quarter, the Warriors went with their Hamptons-5 lineup, and they proceeded to take the lead and play dominant basketball. Kevin Durant got hot and started hitting his shots, and was able to get more space for Steph, who hit another three. Things did start to get a little chippy in the end of the half, as Draymond Green was called for a technical foul after blocking a shot. He appeared to trying to get the crows riled-up, but Russell Westbrook made sure Scott Foster knew that he thought it should be a technical foul. Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant then went nose-to-nose after a play where Carmelo Anthony was basically hugging KD and the KID pushed off, causing the brief scuffle. The Warriors continued to play excellent defense, and were forcing the Thunder’s best scorer, Paul George to miss his shots, as he was 0/9 at the half. Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring with 19 points, and his old teammate, Russell Westbrook, led the Thunder with 11 points. Westbrook was well on his way to another triple-double with 12 rebounds and five assists at the half. The Warriors shot the ball at a 45.5% clip at halftime, whereas the Thunder were shooting 33.3%. The reason that the Thunder were close to the Warriors were due to their ability to grab offensive rebounds, and because of this, they were getting nice second chance shots. At the half, the Warriors led the Thunder, 52-45.

The third quarter saw the Thunder get off to a hot start, bringing themselves back within one point in just over two minutes, forcing Steve Kerr to call a quick timeout. The Thunder started the quarter on a massive run where they held the Warriors scoreless for over four minutes. The Warriors then got things going again thanks to Kevin Durant and Steph, who were able to nail a couple shots to snatch the lead back. The Warriors then put the pedal to the metal, and started playing intense defense and playing their offense with more fluidity than in other regular season games. Kevin Durant was able to start scorching hot, finishing the quarter with 28 points. Stephen Curry also was getting hot, and had 21 points of his own, and looked like he could get a triple-double of his own with nine rebounds and six assists. Nick Young even got in on the action, and nailed two huge threes, including one to beat the buzzer right in front of the Thunder’s bench. Russell Westbrook was still leading OKC with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. By the time the quarter ended, the Warriors had built an 18-point lead, and the score was 84-66.

In the fourth quarter, the Warriors bench extended the lead and made the entire quarter garbage time. The bench basically rode out the entire third quarter, with brief guest appearances from Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. Nick Young thrived off of the bench and finished the game with 16 points, and nailed several massive threes in the third and fourth quarter. Quinn Cook also got some playing time down the stretch, and he played really well, and made two threes, one of which was from Curry range, and he finished with six points. The Warriors finished the game shooting 47.2% from the floor, and that included shooting 44.7% from three. The Thunder continued to shoot terribly, and finished shooting 33%, which is bad. The Warriors outscored the thunder in the second half, 60-34, and won the game 112-80.

This was the Warriors first win over the Thunder this year, and it was a dominant display. The Warriors were able to put the clamps down on the “OK3”, and they combined to score 34 points on 11/46 shooting. The Thunder were clearly frustrated all game, especially Carmelo Anthony, who spent the entire game trying to get Warriors into foul trouble. He appeared to have trouble when the Warriors played actual defense on him, but that is probably because he spent the whole offseason running around in a hoodie while the only defense that was played on him was by folding chairs. Russell Westbrook was only three assists from winning the game, and finished with 15 points (4/15 shooting), 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Paul George looked atrocious shooting the ball, and finished with just five points on 1/11 shooting (1/9 from three). This was the first time that the Warriors appeared to be fully engaged against the Thunder, and it looked like they were treating it like a playoff game. Kerr appeared to have a short leash for players who were ineffective, and he kept his rotations tight for the first three quarters. It was nice to see a win like this, and I think that the Warriors will continue to play this well against contenders for the rest of the year.

Also, was it a coincidence that the Warriors played such a good game and it was the first time they took off their “The Town” jerseys in like six weeks? I don't think so. Of all their jerseys, the Warriors have played their worst in their all-black “The Town” jerseys, and I will be much happier when they play in literally any other uniform.

The Warriors played well as a team, but they benefited from two great performances from their biggest stars. Kevin Durant finished with 28 points, and blew the roof off of Oracle Arena after Carmelo Anthony tried to fight him. Stephen Curry also was incredible, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. A couple of Warriors could have played better, but I think that is a good sign for them, because if Klay manages to hit the shots that he missed tonight, which he will make nine times out of ten, then the Warriors will blow the Thunder off of the floor in the playoffs.

The Thunder are now 34-27, and are now just 1.5 games up on the Clippers, who are in ninth place in the West. Earlier this year, I wrote about how this team was eerily like the 2012-13 “Now This is Going to be Fun” Lakers, but they have proven me wrong, and four games better than the Lakers were at this point. The Thunder now have a worse winning percentage than the Indiana Pacers, who are being led by Victor Oladipo, who was on OKC last year. It has been very interesting to see how Russell Westbrook has made Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, and Kevin Durant worse than they really are. It will be interesting to see how OKC fares down the stretch, and see where they end up in the Western Conference playoffs.

A side note from today’s game: During the third quarter, Russell Westbrook fell on the floor under the hoop, and Zaza Pachulia fell on top of his leg, and it was not a good look. It looked like it was on purpose, or at the very least Zaza did not make any effort to avoid Westbrook’s legs. The play has drawn vast criticism from across the league. Kyrie Irving said on instagram: “The league has to take a look at this man, that shit is ridiculous.” In his postgame comments, Russell Westbrook was asked about the play, and he said: “Obviously it was intentional”, and when asked if Pachulia is a dirty player, he said: “Yeah. For sure.” I don’t know what Zaza’s intentions were behind falling on his leg, but it did not look good, and he might deserve to be fined, especially with his history of opposing players getting hurt around him, like Kawhi Leonard.

The Warriors play their next game on Monday, February 26, in New York against the Knicks at 4:30 p.m.