In what was definitively the most heartbreaking Thunder loss of the year, Oklahoma City has lost to the Golden State Warriors, 118-121. The Thunder held the lead through the entire game, save for a short stretch at the end of the third. In fact, OKC's lead was as big as 11 with 4:50 to go in the fourth quarter. But the offensive onslaught of the Warriors couldn't be stopped, as Curry scored 8 points and dished an assist in the final four minutes. That outburst caused overtime.
In overtime, OKC took quick advantage, attacking the paint against the Warriors small lineup. But KD fouled out about a minute in. Singler replaced KD, and had a number of defensive failures. This allowed the Warriors to outscore the Thunder the rest of the way, with everything being capped off by a miracle Curry three at the buzzer.
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How did OKC let this game get away?
With 14 seconds left to go in regulation, it seemed as if the Thunder had this game in hand. KD had just hit a three, as an auxiliary option on an Ibaka pick and pop. The Thunder were up four. But disaster struck quickly, and without mercy.
The Warriors inbounded the ball to Klay Thompson. Roberson was supposed to get him on a switch, but was too slow. A quick layup had the Thunder lead down to two. OKC immediately inbounded to KD, but KD was trapped on the baseline. Instead of calling a timeout, KD threw the ball cross-court to Waiters. The ball was lost, and found it's way into the hands of Iguodala. Iguodala found space mid-range, and got fouled shooting with 0.7 seconds left. Iguodala hit two free throws.
OKC had a chance to win it with 0.7 seconds left, but that just left time for a clanked KD turnaround. The Warriors had forced overtime, and sucked all of the momentum out of the building.
That being said, Russell Westbrook was never one for following convention. Following a won tipoff, he charged into the paint for an And one. Dion Waiters, stout as ever, stopped a Draymond Green post up. That led to an Ibaka fast break dunk. OKC up 5, 4:26 to go.
Then, all of OKC's momentum died again. Curry got a mismatch with KD, and shot aggressively. KD drew the foul, picking up his sixth for the game. This left the Thunder without their star for the final moments of overtime. In KD's place was, you guessed it, Kyle Singler.
Westbrook, with the offense primarily on his shoulders, was out of control. One drive was an attempted pick and roll to Ibaka, but Westbrook made the pass about two seconds too late. Another Westbrook drive resulted in Draymond Green wildly blocking a layup attempt.
Meanwhile, Curry made an off-the-dribble three on Westbrook on the other end, cutting the Thunder's lead to one. Draymond's block led to a fast break, but Roberson deterred Iguodala's layup attempt.
OKC calls timeout. Thunder up 1, 3:25 to go. The shot out of the timeout is a Dion Waiters missed stepback, which I'm sure wasn't planned. But from that point on, OKC re-took control of the game. Ibaka rotated to stop a Draymond Green layup. Westbrook found Ibaka on the pick and roll. Roberson made a layup, courtesy of a Westbrook drive. And Ibaka hit a flip shot along the baseline, courtesy of another Westbrook drive. OKC even looked strong defensively, as Westbrook defended a Curry three.
The one error during that whole sequence? A Curry stepback three on Singler.
So the Thunder are up by 4 with 1:40 left to go in overtime. The Warriors come out of the timeout getting Curry a matchup with Singler. Curry's shot barely rims out, but Draymond gets the offensive board, and kicks to Klay for 3. Westbrook charges at Thompson on the other end, but the shot misses near the rim. Ibaka gets the offensive board, and gets it back to Westbrook. Westbrook then drives into Thompson again, getting the foul. Westbrook makes both free throws. putting the Thunder up 3, 1:00 to go.
But, again, the Warriors go to the Singler-Curry matchup. Curry gets the lane and draws the foul. Both free throws are good. Thunder up 1, 0:49 to go.
Westbrook has the play of his life. Curry was completely crossed over, Thompson was left in the dust, and Green had to meet Westbrook at the rim. But Westbrook smartly passed the ball to Roberson, who crashed to the rim for an ugly layup. Thunder up 3, 0:33 to go.
Sadly, Singler was again the culprit on defense. Ibaka had switched onto Thompson. Thompson took a screen from Draymond Green, who was being guarded by Singler. Ibaka, before the screen hit, shouted at Singler to take Thompson around the screen. Singler did the opposite, staying with Green. This left Thompson free to run to the rim unhindered. And 1 layup, free throw made, tie game, 0:29 to go. Ibaka yelled at Singler after the play, but Singler just stood, holding the ball, looking at the crowd.
The Thunder's next offensive possession was a complete mess. Westbrook tried to post up Thompson, but was stymied. Westbrook then passed to Singler, who immediately threw the ball back to Westbrook. Westbrook attacked Thompson with little time left, but the push shot was no good.
Rebound Iguodala. Curry casually dribbles it beyond the half-court line. Roberson leaves him space. Curry, about 10 feet behind the three point line, spots up for an open shot. Splash. Warriors up by 3 with 0.7 seconds to go.
Westbrook has time to pop off a three on the inbounds, but it's short. OKC loses the game in the most heartbreaking way possible.
OKC's Turnover problems
The Thunder had 22 turnovers, 15 of which were live ball steals from the Warriors. The Warriors got into transition way too often, and that's what killed the Thunder in the end. Guess who might alleviate a turnover problem....Payne, a real point guard, at point guard perhaps? Even Foye would have helped out in the second half. Singler, though he doesn't create turnovers, creates problems because defenses don't respect him. Every time Singler touches the ball, it's just as a conduit to get it to someone else, or as an absolute last resort.
I know, KD and Westbrook were responsible for 13 turnovers. But when you stagger their minutes, forcing them to play with new lineups, what do you expect?
- Stephen Curry tied the NBA record for threes in a game. It was 12, previously set by Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant. (Shoutout to Donyell, who won me many games on NBA Live '98.) So yes, that last shot Curry popped off to win the game was historic in more ways than one.
- Stephen Curry broke the NBA record for threes in a season tonight. It was his own record from last year. Curry's still got 27.5% of the season left to play, by the way.
- This win clinched a playoff spot for the Warriors. On February 27th. Respect.
Warriors (-3.5) @ Thunder. pic.twitter.com/5TXu91mJ7U— Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91) February 27, 2016
- Andre Roberson's defense turned out to be just what the doctor ordered, and Roberson was able to step up in key moments on offense as well. I will say that Roberson was kinda exposed at times. Like I saw Livingston use his quickness to pull off a turnaround And 1 on Roberson, and I saw Iguodala use his size to get a bucket down low. Even Klay Thompson was able to evade Dre at time, getting space via off ball screens. But Dre's defense was really, really good overall. At least a handful of Klay shots were stopped. Roberson also had a steal to trigger the break, and a couple of key stops at the rim. Offensively Dre just did his usual thing of shooting corner threes and charging at the basket. 2 of 4 on corner threes, and all of the drives to the rim were aggressive. Can't ask for any more, really.
- Randy Foye got six minutes in the first half, and none in the second half. During his time on the floor in the first half, Foye missed up a three and gave up 6 points. Two on a Barnes turnaround, and four more because he couldn't catch Barbosa around screens for a jumper and a layup. Of course, all of these baskets were made with Foye out of position.
- Serge Ibaka was another player that got exploited on mismatches sometimes. I saw Ibaka give up a three to Klay and Curry, while also letting Klay get to the rim. But some tenacity was there as well, as I saw Ibaka deter a Barnes three, block Draymond Green at the rim, and steal a cross-court pass. Offensively, this was really a watershed game for Ibaka. In recent games past Ibaka has had a tendency to fade from the offense completely when the game got to the fourth quarter. Tonight, Ibaka had three shots in the fourth quarter, and three shots in overtime. The best part about it is that Ibaka missed a couple of jumpers around the four minute mark, but Russ has no problem going back to Ibaka with two minutes to go. This clutch play where Westbrook found Ibaka was essential, because it forced the defense to respect Ibaka on the next play, allowing him to kick out to KD for that three that almost won the game. In overtime, Ibaka dunked it on the break, scored on a Westbrook pick and roll, and nailed a baseline flip shot. Add to that an OT stop of Draymond Green in the paint, and you've got a wonderful game from Ibaka.
- Kevin Durant was 7 of 11 from three tonight, which is a new level of absurd. Most of the threes came in transition or off of offensive boards. KD's play tonight was really something to behold. Lots of effortless turnaround jumpers on defenders like Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Harrison Barnes. KD also took advantage of the lack of a big for the Warriors in the paint, scoring a couple buckets at the basket on the pick and roll. Durant's ballhandling wasn't where it usually is, with 5 assists to 5 turnovers. The hectic pace of the game forced KD into a couple of errant passes. But KD filled his role as a scorer well, and that's what's important. KD's defense was solid, as he deterred a couple of threes with his length, but let Klay hit a stepback on him at one point.
- Russell Westbrook was 0 of 11 taking shots outside of the paint, and had 7 turnovers. That sounds bad, but Westbrook was also 8 of 15 inside the paint and had 13 assists. Most of Westbrook's points were powerful drives or quick backdowns. Klay was on Westbook all game, and did his part to keep Westbrook shooting from outside. Defensively, I really admired Westbrook's effort today. Westbrook stopped a Barbosa post up and a Barnes post up. Furthermore, Westbrook intimidated a couple of Curry threes and intimidated a Klay three. Of course, Westbrook gave up a couple of Curry threes and allowed Klay to step back on him a couple of times. But I felt like enough defensive stops were there to declare this a solid game for Westbrook.
- Steven Adams really faded into the background today, despite some nice moments. I remember clearly Adams hook over Andrew Bogut, his nice finish on the pick and roll, as well as his won overtime tip that got Westbrook to the rim. But Adams didn't get crunch time minutes, nor did he get overtime minutes. Curry was putting Adams in the pick and roll all game, and it really hurt the Thunder at times. I admire Adams for doing all he could to take away Curry's three, but ultimately Curry was too quick.
- Enes Kanter had a roller coaster game. At first, it seemed like failure. Kanter's second quarter stint was just awful. Two turnovers, two fouls in the post, an allowed mid-range stepback by Iguodala, and an allowed Barbosa bucket at the rim. But even that second quarter stint had a couple of finishes at the rim. And in the third and fourth quarters, Enes really stepped up on defense. Two forced missed threes from Curry, a forced missed three from Barbosa as well as a deterred Iguodala stepback. There was one situation where Curry blitzed Kanter around the pick and roll, but overall the third was great. Offensively, Kanter had a couple of opportunities in transition and tipped in a missed three.
- Dion Waiters and his stoutness stopped a Iguodala post up, a Draymond post up, and a Curry shot near the rim. Waiters gave Curry a three on a switch, but was otherwise pretty solid defensively. Offensively Dion was efficient, if kind of in the background. Waiters missed a pair of threes, but went 3 of 5 from mid-range. Two makes off the dribble, one off the catch. No shots at the rim this time, strangely. Most important stat though: No shots taken after the 10:19 mark of the fourth, despite 10 minutes of game time. Old news....we still can't manage to find Dion in the clutch.
- Kyle Singler. I hate wasting the brain power writing this. He looked so bad. Once I saw him streak to the basket, only to have the ball knocked away. Another forced shot near the rim missed. And Singler's only make in 23 minutes of action was a complete farce. KD had a double team and tried to throw it to Singler. The ball was tipped, and the ball magically landed in Singler's hands with nobody next to him. Free layup. Defensively, Singler gave up a Curry three in the second half and countless Curry points in overtime. Honestly, Singler's length means nothing if he plays with no confidence, and doesn't make a single stop on D. Give me Foye, Payne, Morrow, Collison.....anybody other than this guy.
- For the third game in a row, Westbrook and Durant had their minutes staggered. I don't see this changing any time soon, but perhaps Westbrook saw a decrease in efficiency with less Durant on the floor?
- Westbrook played 37 minutes without OT, and Durant played 38 without OT. Not ideal, but pretty decent considering the important nature of this game.
- I don't know if this team will ever have any sort of regularity from the three point line. KD single-handedly held that category together tonight. 7 of 11 threes for KD, 2 of 15 for the rest of the team.
- At the end of the day, we will remember two plays from this game. Curry's miracle half-court three, and KD's thrown away pass at the end of regulation. Both of those things don't happen very often, so I'm feeling very positive about OKC's ability to challenge the Dubs moving forward.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, the unstoppable scoring machine
Thunder Down Under: Russell Westbrook, who's just a couple bad decisions away from his usual level
Thunder Blunder: Kyle Singler, defensive paper bag, offensive ghost
Thunder Plunderer: Stephen Curry, who read Thunder defenders like a book
Next Game: At the Sacramento Kings, Monday, February 29th, 9 PM Central Standard Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!