It's the cliché of the year, but it must be said: the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared to figure something out about these Golden State Warriors.
For the second consecutive game, they nearly shut out the Splash Brothers in a pivotal quarter. Monday, it was the decisive fourth quarter. This time it was the second quarter, as the Thunder rallied to take their first lead of the game.
Fortunately for Golden State, the Thunder promptly forgot whatever it was. Stephen Curry lit up the scoreboard like few can, dropping 17 points on eight shots in the third quarter to give us an early start to garbage time. And this time, there were plenty of highlights for all.
The game was a slog to start, however. The referees were very slow to blow the whistle for both teams, a welcome change from Monday night. The Warriors were sharper, however, and appeared to maintain some control over the game all night long. Despite this, Kevin Durant exploded in the first half, as he generally does with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and four rebounds (five turnovers). The rest of the Thunder were not so hot, however, scoring just 26 points on 29 shots! Unlike game one, the Warriors were winning their wager with the rest of the Thunder role players.
Durant's slick shooting bought Oklahoma City a one point lead late in the second quarter, 47-46. And in that moment, the Warriors took control for good.
Andre Iguodala made a three the hard way, and converted the shot of the series when he Michael Jordan'ed the ball up, down, and up again - way off the backboard with as much English as the menu at Joe's Really Authentic Japanese Eatery. Dubs guards found Festus Ezeli under the rim for easy buckets. And the Warrior defense forced a series of misses from the Thunder role players.
— RealGM (@RealGM) May 19, 2016
Andre Iguodala with a no-look circus shot. https://t.co/m7pOeedmJT
What followed was basically a 24-minute highlight reel.
After briefly losing the lead, the Warriors ended the first half with a flurry, finishing on an 11-2 scoring run (halftime score of 57-49). They clamped down on Durant, holding him to just six second half points. Then Steph went all third quarter on us, and it was glorious. If you missed it, let me give you a twitter recap.
Stephen Curry let Ibaka know before it went in. https://t.co/uyRgE3856u— RealGM (@RealGM) May 19, 2016
Stephen Curry just scored 12 points in 82 seconds.— Bill Oram (@billoram) May 19, 2016
Stephen Curry is pretty much a cheat code in a video game.— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 19, 2016
Final damage from Stephen Curry's third quarter burst: 17 points on 5-for-8 & 3-for-4 from deep. Warriors +15 in 3rd w/ him on court...— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 19, 2016
All caught up? Good.
Stephen Curry went absolut -- wait, hold up:
Stephen Curry literally went Super Saiyan in the third quarter, outscoring the Thunder team 17-15 as late as the two minute mark. Golden State opened up a no-doubt 22-point lead while squashing all talk of a Thunder upset...for now. Oracle Arena personnel are already working hard to repair the charred wood that remains near the three point arc. The unanimous MVP finished with 28 points on 15 shots -- that ultra-efficiency.
Notes from the wastebasket...
Festus Ezeli relieved Andrew Bogut early, as part of an effort to keep the starter's minutes low. The Aussie was still able to start and contribute, however, and that's a great sign. He wasn't exactly incredible from the start, however, with two rebounds and two turnovers in about two first quarter touches. He warmed up later, earning a few key stops and holding his own on the defensive glass.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, Steven Adams landed awkwardly after a contested rebound, forcing him to the locker room for treatment. The very next quarter, to the delight of Thunder fans everywhere, Adams returned to action. He was quickly taken out, again, by an unfortunate knee to the man-region. Draymond Green caught him while elevating for a layup.
Dub Nation got a horrible scare when Stephen Curry
stupidly heroically attempted to save the basketball while leaping into the second row. He stayed down for at least a full minute as TNT's crack production staff quickly cut to gasping fans and crying children. Fortunately, Steph was able to recover (with the help of a timeout). Shout out to the "fan" who stood over Curry, while he was on the floor in a pile of chairs, to take photos. Who does that!?
Andre Iguodala rose from his week-long slumber, playing active defense and firing high quality shots (did you see that strip of KD that he skillfully whacked right back at Durant, and out of bounds? That's next level stuff). His shot wasn't there at all early, as he opened 0-of-5, but he finished by hitting his next 4-of-5 to finish with 14 points and three steals.
Marreese Speights = Mo Buckets
Warriors fans were on high alert, following a couple of controversial whistles in the Thunders' previous playoff series. Russell Westbrook's game one travel-that-never-was only sent the tinfoil hatters into a frenzy. The Thunder enjoyed a plush foul advantage (very) early in this one, but that evened out quickly. At the half, each team was cited for 10 fouls, as the referees seemed content to let both sides play it out. There was a lot of un-whistled contact both ways - and Steven Adams absolutely got the worst of it.
The Warriors got one of the best bench performances of the season, as Iguodala and Ezeli contributed 27 points, combined. Every Warrior played, and contributed a positive box score statistic (yay participation award!).
The Warriors dominated the rebounding 45-36, attempted nine more free throws, and committed fewer fouls (22-21). I would have bet a large sum of money that all three of those things (or even just any two of them) would never happen this series.
Man @StephenCurry30 scored 15pts in 2 min. I scored 15pts in my backyard in 30 min & nobody else was playing me.— Gary Owen (@garyowencomedy) May 19, 2016
The Golden State Warriors head to Oklahoma City to kick off the second leg of the Western Conference Finals. Game three is Sunday at 5pm.