Between Kendrick Perkins ripping Stephen Curry in the open floor and Kevin Martin flying in for a putback dunk, I’m not really sure I’m conscious right now.
That’s No. 58 for the Thunder, a 116-97 romp on the road over a solid Warriors team. After a mostly even first half, things turned in Oklahoma City’s favor with a 36-23 third quarter, sparked by some brilliant basketball from Kevin Durant. He scored 14 points in the quarter and dished four assists, having a hand in 25 points.
Durant blended scoring and distributing just about as well as you possibly can in his 34 minutes on the floor tonight. He had 31 on 10-of-16 shooting, with eight assists that led to 21 points. So basically, Durant was part of 51 of OKC’s 116 tonight. There are nights where Durant seemingly looks a bit conservative in scoring, and some nights where maybe he forces a bit.
But this is pretty much the perfect KD game. This is the kind of game that he’s capable of, that elevates the Thunder to a class of their own in the Western Conference. With him spraying the ball all over while still maintaining a scoring touch, with Russell Westbrook on the attack, with Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha involved, the Thunder get downright filthy.
The Thunder had five players score in double-figures tonight, taking their record when that happens to 26-3. That doesn’t seem like a coincidence. We all know the Westbrook-Durant Show is the focus of the Thunder, but when there’s the kind of offensive synergy between five players as there was tonight, that’s when the Thunder deathstar is fully operational.
For instance, that Martin dunk somehow had was his 20th point, giving him his first game with at least that total since Feb. 6, which ironically, came against the Warriors. It’s not that Martin hasn’t played well since then. It’s just that he often scores in spurts. He isn’t a consistent offensive option throughout a game, not someone that his teammates are regularly looking for. Tonight, he got it going early with 11 quick points, then sustained the scoring through to finish with 23, the most he’s had since Jan. 25 against the Kings where he had 24.
It obviously helped that he hit 8-of-10 — including 4-5 from 3 — but the point is that he was an active member of the OKC offense. I realize it’s not ALWAYS possible to keep four or five guys involved in the offense because some games dictate more of a one-man or two-man focus, but the Thunder often forget how much offensive talent they have on the floor. And when utilizing Martin’s scoring ability and not freezing him out for long stretches, the Thunder can expect production like he gave tonight on a most routine basis.
Some if this though is about what the defense gives you, and the Warriors didn’t present much resistance. They’re a decent defensive team, but in terms of matchups, they were playing catchup all night. No one on the roster can check Durant, no one can stay in front of Westbrook and Ibaka can get lose of David Lee most any time he wants. For the Thunder, it was about keep the offense in rhythm, and in order to do that, they needed stops on the other end. The Thunder turned Golden State over 16 times and forced a lot of long jumpers that led to transition opportunities. The Warriors only had seven offensive boards on 44 percent shooting, meaning the Thunder controlled the glass extremely well.
So far in April, the Thunder are 4-1 with a win over the Spurs, and road wins over the Pacers, Jazz and Warriors. Their margin of victory in those games is +15.7, with the loss being a tight one against the Knicks that had a good chance to go OKC’s way. Seems to me like the Thunder are building something pretty nice as the playoffs approach.
- The Thunder can clinch their third straight Northwest Division title with a win in Portland tomorrow. And a win over Portland would put them two home games away from clinching the top seed in the West too.
- Perk came out 10:51 in the third and didn’t return with a tight right hamstring.
- Because of it, Hasheem Thabeet saw heavy third quarter minutes, and they were pretty solid. Granted, his opposition was Festus Ezeli who was basically a walking blooper, but still, he did a good job clearing the boards and sealing the paint.
- Chuck went on his “the Thunder are a jumpshooting team” thing again at halftime. Meaning, he’s wrong again. But then again, he harped on this jumpshooting thing all year last season using it as his primary reason OKC wouldn’t do anything in the playoffs. For reference the next time your friends bring up this point to pooh-pooh OKC’s title chances, remember, the Thunder attempted more shots inside of five feet in the Finals than the Heat did. Miami won because of the 3-point line.
- Also, via @ThunderStats: “Thunder take 59% of their shots at the rim. More than the Spurs 58%, Nuggets 58%, Grizzlies 52%, and Lakers 57%.”
- Honestly, I was a little worried with Scott Brooks going deep into the bench so early in the fourth. It was only a 19-point game with five minutes left when he inserted Daniel Orton. But the garbage time group actually did a pretty nice job closing things out. Having Reggie Jackson out there helps.
- What a sequence with Westbrook beasting over Ezeli on a layup, then swatting Curry, then Durant dunking.
- Did KD go with a Mortal Kombat fatality gesture after it when he clapped his hands together? Because if so, AWESOME.
- I sort of enjoyed the TNT broadcast with the three-man analyst booth. Steve Kerr is just so, so, so good. Of course Reggie Miller was ugh, but I enjoyed him saying he likes the Derek Fisher pickup for OKC.
- On that Perk steal: He airballed a shot over Andrew Bogut, then picked Curry clean and threw a lovely dish to Westbrook for a layup: Note: This sequence actually happened. Really.
- Thabo was feeling the 3-ball tonight. The one right before halftime was big, then the back-to-back ones in the third really helped separate things.
- Serge Ibaka dominated the first quarter with 13 points, four rebounds and a couple blocks. He stuffed Andrew Bogut at the rim, finger-wagged, then hustled back to follow-up a Durant miss with a putback. In 28 minutes he had 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Big.
- The Thunder didn’t have a single-digit in the box score tonight. 42 made baskets, 12 made 3s, 20 made free throws, 10 offensive rebounds, 46 total, 30 assists, 10 steals, 10 blocks, 17 turnovers, 21 fouls, 116 points.
- So yeah, the Thunder had a quintuple-double as a team tonight.
- Curry hit a jumper over Perk on a big-little switch, and honestly, it’s one of the only times this season I feel like this has happened.
- That Derek Fisher flop. #intangiblesleadershipexperience
- Does Stephen Curry have a nickname? I think I might start calling him The Virgin because he’s so pure. Get it? You get it.
- Westbrook’s first five minutes: 1-6, three turnovers. His next 25 minutes: 6-11, nine assists, one turnover.
- That Daniel Orton travel when he first checked in nearly broke my heart.
- I can’t tell if Jarrett Jack’s face is stuck in a permanent “wassup” face, or if it’s a permanent “I’m high” face.
- Melo tonight: 36 points. On 13-34 shooting, with two assists. KD: 31 on 10-16, eight assists. Yup.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: ” Oh my. Ooohhh my. We’re speaking major wrongness here.”
Next up: At Portland on Friday.