Jesse Johnson | US Presswire
The Golden State Warriors fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 119 - 109 in a road game that we probably could have marked as a "L" the day the schedule was released.
If you were looking for signs of growth from the Warriors, perhaps the performances of Draymond Green and outscoring the Thunder 36-25 in the fourth quarter left encouraged.
I just have to be honest: that game didn't really get me worked up in either direction.
I came in expecting a loss, was glad the Warriors were able to hang around, and ultimately set this game aside thinking exactly what I and probably many others felt coming in: the Warriors just aren't ready to beat a team of the Thunder's caliber just yet, much less on the road.
And the likelihood of the Warriors winning went from long shot to virtually impossible given the way that the Thunder were raining threes on them.
Key statistic: Thunder shoot 13-for-20 from the 3-point line
Although it's true that the Warriors have been significantly better defensively this season, they just didn't have an answer for a Thunder team that was hitting jumpers, getting to the rim, winning the battle of the boards, and hardly turning the ball over.
Yet while it is tempting to say OKC was just OKC last night, their 3-point shooting was exceptional even for them - when everything else is clicking like that and the Thunder can further punish them for scrambling to cover everything by shooting over 50% from beyond the arc, it's hard to imagine anyone beating them. The floor was spread, they were moving the ball, and through the majority of three quarters it was simply a matter of picking their spots.
The combined 17 assists and 3 turnovers between Kevin Durant - who recorded his first career triple double, which included 10 assists - and Russell Westbrook provide some indirect statistical evidence of how well the team as a whole moved the ball to get themselves easy shots. Kevin Martin was a primary beneficiary of the chaos the Thunder imposed upon the Warriors' defense with a 5-for-7 3-point shooting performance to lead a strong team effort.
Warriors statistical hero: David Lee records another double-double
Another game, another double-double for David Lee. But it was a good night even for Lee's standards, statistically: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals isn't a bad stat line at all. Lee was the one who had a few baskets early in the fourth to cut the Thunder's lead down to 8.
For whatever we think their faults are, Lee and Landry are still playing relatively well together and Lee was especially good tonight scoring off cuts to the basket.
You'll rarely see me highlighting single game plus/minus, but in last night's game Draymond Green's team-high +8 is noteworthy in that it happens to reflect a performance that really did stand out as a positive.
Set aside the statistics though: Green last night was every bit of the player we'd hoped he'd be as a prospect, showing off his versatile skill set and making excellent decisions for the most part (we'll ignore the fouls). He has a knack for putting himself in the right position to make plays offensively - whether as a passer or scorer - even though he's hardly blessed with dominant athleticism.
But the most impressive thing about Green's performance was hands down the fact that he was assigned the difficult task of defending Kevin Durant and actually did an admirable job as a rookie while he was the one responsible for him. Let's be clear: he obviously didn't shut down Durant by any stretch of the imagination, but he does deserve some credit for the Warriors' run as Durant only had 3 points in the fourth quarter. To say that the Warriors can live with that is probably an understatement. The Warriors' staff has been relying on Green for his defense for some time now and putting him on Durant last night was sort of the ultimate testament to their faith in him.
It's hard not to like the type of player that Green was in college, but it's nice to see him starting to show that he can produce in the pros against the league's elite.