So much for the heartbreak hangover. The Oklahoma City Thunder took back-to-back nightmare loses to these Warriors in Tornado alley, and then Wednesday night to the Los Angeles Clippers. Yet Thursday night at Oracle, they looked every bit the contender we expected, leading the game 80-71 late in the third quarter.
Kevin Durant played Warriors-killer (serious-injurer?) once again, with an easy 18-6-5 first half slash line. The all-world superstar finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists (and a nasty nine turnovers). But his impressive contributions were completely wiped out by Russell Westbrook's worst game, yet. The other half of OKC's dynamic duo endured a tough 8-of-24 shooting performance, along with seven assists and six rebounds.
Nevertheless, the Thunder kept the pressure on Warriors three point shooters, once again limiting the Dubs to a poor performance from range (11-of-34). This time, even Stephen Curry wasn't immune, as he "struggled" to a 5-of-15 night from range. Unfortunately for the Thunder, the entire Warriors roster came to play. Those tired legs had no chance as the Warriors pulled away in the fourth, getting great contributions from the entire roster.
From the four minute mark of the third quarter on, the Warriors went on a 50-26 run to ice the game, and the season series. Unlike Saturday night, the Thunder didn't give this one away. The Warriors simply took the victory by force.
There were too many impressive performances to count: 54 points from the Splash Brothers; 14-8-7 from Draymond "Magic" Green; 11-and-8 from Shaun Livingston; Leandro Barbosa and Mo' Buckets pouring in points in an instant, and providing quality defense, too. And Harrison Barnes played a great all-around game, in his own right.
It wasn't their best performance, but it was definitely a great quality outing for the Warriors. If the shots were falling, this could've been downright ugly. For now, Oklahoma City appears to have no answer for Golden State. Westbrook sure doesn't...
Earlier Durant looked confused, now it's Russell Westbrook's time. pic.twitter.com/xekEN4A0LK— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) March 4, 2016
The Warriors return to action for the ABC Sunday Showcase game: they travel to Staples Center to play Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers for the final time.
The Kyle Singler defense is not working for Oklahoma City. Every time they isolate Stephen Curry on him, he does something spectacular.
- Mo' Buckets sure does get love from the Golden State faithful. That touchdown pass he rifled in the third quarter didnt hurt, either. Trying to think of deep-bench role players who got so much respect from championship teams...Steve Kerr? Darko Milicic? Let's go with Darko (who wasn't even a useful backup on that Pistons team).
- Russell Westbrook looked out of control -- way more so than usual. Despite Kevin Durant's painful ability to easily score on Draymond Green, Westbrook continued to chuck ill-advised shots like they were worth points. There is real value to his frenetic attack pace, but tonight was not his night. He was lucky to hit rim (when he hit rim). It's like he's taken Stephen Curry's Curryness as a personal challenge. He certainly deserves respect for trying to answer the bell, but good golly dude, stop trying to answer the bell. For the Warriors, the best Durant defense remains, "let Russ shoot."
- Speaking of the Clippers, they managed to unveil a mascot as bad as their new official logo (which was totally not stolen from Electronic Arts' NBA Live franchise). Chuck the Condor, which was actually designed by a professional marketing firm, will teach Los Angeles area children why condors are an endangered species in the first place.
- Sorry Reggie Miller -- your new State Farm commercial don't exactly live up to the company's standards (Droppin' Dimes, Droppin' Dimes!).
- Andre Iguodala played, after all. He didn't get much court time, but it was nice to see him out there trying to contribute.
- Don't judge the Thunder too harshly for their fourth quarter collapse, tonight. They were playing on the road just 24-hours after their last game (a painful fall-from-ahead loss to the Clippers), and they were at Oracle. The fact that they were in command at any point in the third quarter is actually a good sign. The Thunder need more games to see if their fourth quarter collapses are a painful blip due to a rough schedule, or a worrisome trend.
- If Golden State wins Monday night versus the Orlando Magic, they will own the longest home winning streak in the history of the National Basketball Association (45-games).
- This is unfair...