What a strange game in the Bay Area. I would have bet just about anything that a Thunder-Warriors game would end up with each team scoring well into the 100s, maybe even by midway through the fourth quarter, but that wasn’t the case Sunday night in one of the weirdest Thunder games I can recall watching this season as Oklahoma City fell at Golden State 100-94.
If you glanced only at the Thunder’s side of the stat sheet, you’d probably think Oklahoma City would have won the game. OKC shot 53 percent from the field, 44 percent from behind the arc and 86 percent from the line. The 19 turnovers were kind of ugly, but it would seem survivable with the rest of those numbers. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had the kinds of scoring games that usually spell victory for the good guys as well, combining for 50 points on 16-35 shooting and 14-16 from the line. But Westbrook struggled in other aspects of the game, dishing out only five assists against six turnovers and finishing with zero rebounds.
And rebounding in general was what doomed the Thunder against the Warriors. Golden State out-rebounded Oklahoma City 47-33 including a whopping 20-2 edge on the offensive glass. Twenty to two. That, plus the Warriors finishing with only seven turnovers, led to one of the strangest box score items I’ve seen in awhile. Golden State hoisted 99 field goals compared to only 49 for Oklahoma City. That’s bizarre. The edge was 56-26 at the half. How does that happen?
David Lee doing his best Kevin Love impersonation helped. Lee finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds and had two more offensive boards by himself as the Thunder did as a team. In fact, four Warriors had more offensive rebounds than the entire Oklahoma City team. That’s troubling. And that helps a team win when its opponent shoots 10 percent better from the field.
As long as that kind of performance on the glass doesn’t rear its ugly head too often in the future, I can sort of live with this one. Golden State plays well at home, so there are worse sins than losing on the Warriors’ home court. But it sure would have been nice to go into Tuesday’s game against the Kings with a chance to head into the all-star break on a three-game win streak and 18 games over .500. As it is, the Thunder still has a chance to pick up its 35th win the next time out.
- Durant answered questions about whether his ankle was 100 percent pretty quickly. KD, who turned the ankle Saturday night in Sacramento, had a nice spin move for a dunk to score the Thunder’s second basket of the game.
- What’s up with Andris Biedrins’ haircut? He would have been right at home on the set of Hoosiers. It looks like his grandma combed his hair before the game.
- How about Nenad Krstic’s block on Lee when Lee went up for a dunk in the first quarter? I maintain that Krstic is an underrated defender. He’s not a great defender, it’s just that lots of folks tend to assume he’s horrible because he’s European (I guess). He’s not horrible, he’s solid. Don’t bring that weak ish in Nenad’s house!
- Big shoutout to the folks who wore the bright yellow shirts that spelled out “Ibaka.” That’s awesome.
- James Harden did a nice acting job in getting a foul called on a made 3-pointer in the second quarter. He converted the free-throw for the 4-point play as well. I don’t like seeing Harden hitting the floor after half his jump shots … unless it works. He scored six straight points for the Thunder with that play and two free-throws before that.
- I was glad to see Daequan Cook get a shot at some floor time when the Thunder went relatively small in the second quarter. I don’t mind changing things up every now and then. You’ve got to think that, at minimum, it helps him stay sharp to know he could get some minutes.
- Golden State has the best uniforms and the best court in the NBA. Period. I will accept no arguments. (The Celtics’ uniforms and court are classic and everything, but I’m over it.)
- I can’t think of a starting NBA back court in the last 20 years or so that is weaker defensively than Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. But man, are they fun to watch on the other end. Curry had 23 points on 10-18 shooting and 13 assists, and Ellis had 33 points and seven assists on 13-25 shooting with only four turnovers (all Ellis’) between them. That’s some good offensive basketball.
- Back to Curry for a second. I’m not sure that anyone, other than Steve Nash, can get to a spot on the floor better than him. He’s pretty much always in control, and he uses his handle and body — diminutive as he may be — to get to exactly where he wants to go, and his shooting touch is just incredible. And I know there are a lot of Thunder fans out there who would rather have him than Harden, who was drafted several spots ahead of him. But I’m still not sure if Curry can be as valuable as Harden, if Harden continues to improve and become more consistent, in a physical seven-game playoff series.
- Really didn’t like the technical against Westbrook. He got called for a charge and reacted by throwing a fist into the air for a second. A guy needs to be able to show a little emotion. These are grown men.
- The Thunder started the fourth quarter with Eric Maynor, Thabo Sefolosha, Harden, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison on the floor. I can’t remember the last time OKC went any extended stretch with the game still in doubt without at least one of Durant, Westbrook or Jeff Green on the floor. They did a decent job, too, until Harden fell on his rear and Ellis finished a break with a dunk to put the Warriors up by seven, and then KD came back in. A few minutes later, the game was tied.
- OKC shot itself in the foot time and time again with offensive fouls. The Thunder killed momentum for itself with charges at several points in the game.
- Sefolosha bailed out Westbrook on a late-game possession with a nice tip after one of Westbrook’s patented frustrating ball-dominating fourth-quarter efforts. It was one of those where you could tell Westbrook wasn’t going to pass the rock no matter what, and in this case he didn’t even drive to the rim but settled for a jump shot. I love me some Russell Westbrook, but I hate those possessions late in games. I want the ball in his hands, but if even I can tell he isn’t going to pass it on a given possession, that’s bad news. Let’s see some ball movement, and let’s see Durant get some late shots too.
- The Thunder has tried to make a living by getting stops only when it has to late in the game, and it couldn’t in San Francisco. When OKC looked like it had a chance to steal the game late, down only 1 with less than a minute left, Durant and Green left a shooter wide open when the action had sagged to the other side, and the Warriors made them pay with a wide-open 3-pointer that they’ll hate to watch on film.
I wouldn’t say this has to be considered a bad loss, but it wasn’t really fun to see the way the Thunder lost. Lee or no Lee, I don’t think there’s much reason for OKC to be dominated that badly on the boards, especially when Biedrins only plays 18 minutes. But hopefully the Thunder can rebound (get it?) with one last shot at a win before the break.
Next up: Kings on Tuesday.