Entering the fourth quarter, the Thunder led by eight, but it felt like a small eight. Any time you play the Warriors, especially at their place, you flirt with their offensive-minded players pouring in points in bunches.
Instead, the Thunder went on a big 13-1 run late in the fourth that put Golden State away, 120-109. It started with a Kevin Durant 3, had a gorgeous two pass fast break as the body with the conclusion being an and-1 layup by Russell Westbrook. Just like that, in the span of less than a minute the Thunder had opened the game up and put some much needed distance between them and the Warriors.
Stop right here though and have a look at the box score. It’s worth it. Westbrook: 28 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and seven steals. Durant: 37 points, 14 rebounds and three assists. Serge Ibaka: 20 points, 12 rebounds with eight coming on the offensive glass. James Harden: 19 points, four rebounds and two assists. Between those four, the Thunder got 94 points, 36 rebounds and 16 assists.
And… 18 turnovers. Once again, the Thunder gave the ball away with great ease, turning it over 22 times. Durant and Westbrook each had seven apiece. The good news is though, the Thunder entered the fourth quarter with 17 turns, meaning when it counted most, OKC valued the ball a bit more turning it over just five times in the last 12 minutes. Baby steps, you guys.
The other problem OKC has had this season was actually a major positive. The Thunder crushed the offensive glass, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds and were a plus-19 on the boards (53-34). The Thunder had 20 second chance points to the Warriors six. The Thunder won the game with some good offensive execution, at the free throw line (32-37), by getting enough stops and owning the glass. You can give it away 22 times when you win all those other areas. (And it helped Golden State turned it over 20 times as well.)
This was the type of game that was really dangerous for OKC coming in. A solid offensive team that can getting rolling in front of their home crowd that needed a win. I honestly didn’t expect the Thunder to win this one. That eight-point lead to start the fourth felt like it was three and it seemed like the Warriors were primed to go on an 8-0 run at any second. But the Thunder maintained, killed the glass and whipped the Warriors on the offensive end. The turnovers were ugly, but everything else about it was so very, very pretty.
- The Thunder actually took more shots than an opponent — 88-87. That’s rare.
- Russell Westbrook had his first double-double of the season and his first double-digit assist game of the season.
- Ibaka had his first double-double of the season as well. Ironically though, his best game of the season didn’t include a single block breaking a streak of 31 consecutive games with a swat.
- Interesting move by Scott Brooks late: He chose to leave Perk on the bench and go with Nick Collison at the 5. Great decision as the Warriors were running primarily pick-and-roll and Collison is the best big at defending that. Brooks didn’t want to sit Ibaka and go small because he was destroying the offensive glass, so he hedged and left Perk on the bench. Plus, Perk didn’t have much value in this game because was he was guarding Andris Biedrins and Ekpe Udoh for most of it.
- Serious question: If you put a glass of water in front of Nazr Mohammed and told him to jump over it, would your next move be getting some paper towels to clean up the mess? I think it would be.
- Westbrook was terrific in the pick-and-roll. He found Collison and Ibaka multiple times for easy baskets, kicked out well and picked his own spots. Save for the turnovers, which a lot came from him trying to force something in transition or him aggressively trying to split a double, he almost played a perfect Westbrook game.
- Instead of Cole Aldrich taking his place, Scott Brooks may be shrinking his rotation down to nine. Mohammed is playing less and less, only getting eight minutes tonight and none in the second half.
- Because some people were probably thinking it all night: I’d much rather have Reggie Jackson playing backup to Westbrook than Nate Robinson. Robinson does some nice things — like destroying Jackson’s lower half on this crossover — but you never know what he’s going to give you. His random shot chucking is something I wouldn’t want to see in OKC’s second unit.
- It can’t be ignored: OKC had 15 fouls, Golden State 29. You know you’d be complaining about that one.
- Don’t think we’ve seen this yet: Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook on the floor together. It was a result of Thabo Sefolosha sitting out the second half with a sore foot, but instead of going with Daequan Cook at the 2, Brooks chose to use his two point men. Why? I suspect because of the Curry-Ellis backcourt on the other side. Brooks didn’t want Cook chasing around Monta Ellis.
- Great play by Westbrook in the first quarter: Durant hit him in stride as Westbrook attacked the rim and instead of recklessly flying into a set defender, he stopped short of him and hit an easy bank shot. It’s learning.
- Perk picked up his seventh technical for a cheap little shove under the basket after a bucket.
- Robinson drilled a halfcourter and then stared down the Thunder bench hard after it. I don’t know why.
- I really kind of hate Westbrook’s 1-on-5 pullup transition jumper. Except when it goes in.
- Curry and Ellis combined for 11-33 shooting and 28 points. Exactly what I was looking for in the pregame primer. The Warriors got an unexpected 14 from Klay Thompson and 23 from Dorell Wright which kept them in it, but good defense and cold shooting from the Warrior backcourt was big.
- KD finished with 24 shots, which I approve of, but in the first half he was overpassing a bit. It seems like sometimes he wants to make that perfect pass to a cutter a little too much, hence the seven turnovers. And in some cases, he’s passing on taking a quality shot that he could hit.
- Dorell Wright had you sweating just a little bit in those last two minutes, didn’t he?
- I want a CD with all the soft acoustic riffs from the commercials during Thunder games.
- Perk’s jumphooks look good right up until the point of him releasing it. He fires it at the rim like he’s trying to see how hard he can make it ricochet off. Needs to work on putting it up softly, with some touch.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “Oh, Captain Underpants. We remember it well.”
Next up: At the Clippers Monday.