In a Duel between MVP's, Durant comes out on Top as Warriors beat OKC 111-107
After beating the Phoenix Suns in their last game, the Golden State Warriors (56-21) made the trip to the Oklahoma to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (45-33). The Warriors would be looking to put the Thunder in their place for the second straight time. The team would be short handed though, as they were without Omri Casspi, Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney, and Shaun Livingston. The Thunder were in the middle of a race for better seeding in the Western Conference playoffs, due to the fact that they were just 1.5 games up on the Pelicans who are in the eighth seed. The Warriors went on to win the game 111-107.
The Thunder got the first quarter started on a quick 7-0 run before Kevin Durant nailed a mid range jumper to get the Warriors on the board. The Thunder were able to run their offense with relative ease in the opening minutes of the game, but several of their possessions did seem to stall and fall back into isolation. Russell Westbrook hit an early three off of a screen, which is a shot that the Warriors will live with as he is shooting less than 30% from three this year. Klay Thompson hit an early three, but the Warriors were unable to get into a rhythm offensively for the first couple of minutes. At the time of the first timeout, the Thunder led the Warriors 12-7. After the timeout, Kevin Durant got hot and hit two shots for the Warriors while also finding his way to the line to nail a couple free throws. On the other end, the Thunder were able to take advantage of Klay Thompson being in some early foul trouble by having Paul George shoot over Nick Young, and when he tried it for the first time, he nailed a three. As the quarter progressed, the Thunder’s bench was doing a nice job of scoring on the shorthanded Warriors. Alex Abrines threw down a big dunk over Jordan Bell, and the Thunder were also able to get to the line. For the Warriors, Kevin Durant continued to be the man in charge of the offense, scoring 15 points for the Warriors. Paul George was the leading scorer for the Thunder with 10 points, and Russell Westbrook was close behind with seven points. Neither team was shooting the ball exceptionally well, as the Thunder were at 47% and the Warriors were at 42%. As the quarter drew to a close, Kevin Durant nailed a three to keep the Warriors close, but as the buzzer sounded, the Thunder led the Warriors 27-24.
The Warriors opened the second quarter on a nice shot from David West, and then followed that up with a dunk from Jordan Bell. The Warriors continued their early run with another nice David West layup, forcing the Thunder to call a timeout. The Thunder only scored one point in the first two minutes of the quarter as the Warriors took a 30-28 lead. Coming out of the timeout, Klay Thompson hit two mid range jumpers to extend the Warrior lead. Paul George was then able to stop the bleeding with an and-1 on a layup, but Nick Young answered back with a three. The Warriors were hot, and were taking advantage of some poor shot selection from the Thunder as Nick Young and Klay Thompson made back-to-back catch-and-shoot threes. The Thunder's offense continued to stall often, but they did find some points in the form of an Alex Abrines three, but that was all they could really muster before they called a timeout with just under three minutes left in the quarter. Before the timeout, the Warriors were on another run, hitting shots and playing solid defense on the thunder, all while extending their lead. Even Damian Jones got in on the action for the Warriors late in the quarter, throwing down a massive dunk off of a lob from Draymond Green. Kevin Durant shouldered the load once again to end the quarter, scoring on several consecutive possessions for the Warriors. Durant was the leading scorer for the Warriors with 24 points on 7/12 shooting, and the next highest scorer was Klay Thompson with 11 points on 5/10 shooting. For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook was still leading the way with 18 points, while also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out two assists. Paul George also had 13 points at the half, but only three of those came in the second quarter. The Warriors were scorching hot in the second quarter, raising their shooting percentage from 42% to 53.8%. On the other side, the Thunder were ice cold and the Warriors were playing excellent defense, holding them to just 32.6% shooting. At the half, the Warriors led the Thunder 57-47.
Corey Brewer got the scoring started in the third quarter with a nice three for the Thunder, but Klay Thompson immediately answered back with a three of his own. Quinn Cook also hit a three for his first points of the game. After a quick timeout, the Thunder exploded to make it a five-point game on the back of Russell Westbrook, who had two nice baskets at the hoop. The Thunder continued to score, and when I say that “The Thunder” I mean Russell Westbrook, who had 35 points mid way through the quarter when he team took a one-point lead. Klay Thompson hit several nice shots to get up to 20 points. The Warriors were doing a good job of scoring in transition, but in the half court offense, Kevin Durant was beginning to struggle. Despite the Thunder’s offensive explosion, the Warriors were able to keep pace and maintain a lead at the end of the quarter. KD was leading the Warriors with 29 points, and Klay was right behind him with 25 points. Klay Thompson’s scoring was instrumental for the Warriors in the third quarter, but so was the scoring of Quinn Cook and JaVale McGee in transition. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder in scoring with 35 points, while his co-stars in the “OK3”, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, combined for 25 points on 8/29 shooting. After the third quarter, the Warriors led the Thunder 84-81.
The two teams were going shot-for-shot at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Warriors were able to hold their lead. When the Thunder made shots and got to the line, so did the Warriors. The Warriors were running their offense through Klay Thompson, as Durant did not check into the game until six minutes were left in the quarter. Jordan Bell scored four points though, two of which came on a nice elbow jumper. The two teams kept going back-and-forth as the quarter progressed, but the Thunder were being bogged down with some absurdly bad shot selection from Carmelo Anthony, while the Warriors were able to take advantage of those missed opportunities on the other end. No matter what the Warriors were doing defensively, they couldn't slow down Russell Westbrook, but they were able to force Carmelo and Paul George into some bad shots. On the offensive end, the Warriors were doing damage around the hoop, and they were feeding the ball to Damian Jones, who was having an incredible game. As the game was in it’s final minute, the Thunder were able to pick off a pass, which led to a dunk from Corey Brewer to make it a two-point game, but Quinn Cook then nailed two clutch free throws to seal the win for the Warriors, or that is what it looked like at the time. The Thunder then drove down and Russell Westbrook nailed a layup, then fouled Draymond Green, who nailed both free throws to officially end the game. Kevin Durant was the leading scorer for the Warriors with 34 points on 9/25 shooting, while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Westbrook led the Thunder with 44 points, and also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. The Warriors won the game 111-107.
This was a must-win game for the Thunder, as they continue to struggle to gain momentum and lock up a playoff spot. Russell Westbrook was phenomenal tonight, as much as it pains me to say it, but his co-stars weren’t up to par with his performance. Paul George finished with 20 points on 5/19 shooting, and this was his second subpar performance against the Warriors. Carmelo Anthony was bad, and dragged down his team. I have no problem with saying that he was probably the reason his team lost this game. He had 12 points on 4/16 shooting, and just took some atrocious shots. He was pulling up from all over the court, including from way beyond the three point line, and missing most of his shots. As a team, the Thunder shot 37.6% from the field, 23.7% from three, and on top of all that, they turned the ball over 16 times, and you can’t do that against any team and expect to win, especially the Warriors, who are the best transition team in the NBA.
Several players had big nights for the Warriors. KD had his 32 points and 10 rebounds, which was great, but he did get sloppy down the stretch and took some bad shots. Klay Thompson had 20 points, and hit shots when the team needed them the most. Quinn Cook joined the superstar duo in double digits with 12 points on 4/6 shooting, which was absolutely phenomenal. Cook was able to stay out of the way on offense when the team needed him to, hit big shots, and not get swallowed up on defense. Four Warriors had eight points, and they were JaVale McGee, Nick Young, David West, and most importantly Damian Jones. Jones was spectacular on both ends of the court. Early in the game he had a massive block, and as the game went on, his athleticism around the hoop was incredible to watch, and he showed the world what we have been missing by not watching him dominate in the G-League. I can’t say enough about the night he had, he was simply spectacular. As a team, the Warriors shot 49.4% from the field, 27.6% from three, and turned the ball over 13 times. Obviously the three point percentage is not where you would like it to be, but that will fix itself when Stephen Curry returns in the playoffs.
The Warriors play their next game on Thursday, April 5, in Indiana against the Pacers at 4:00 p.m.