The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors added a new chapter to their growing rivalry on Tuesday night. Russell Westbrook’s 44 points and 16 rebounds were not enough, as the Warriors came out with a 111-107 victory over the Thunder. Kevin Durant scored 34 points for Golden State. The loss drops the Thunder to the 6th seed (for the moment). They’re now tied in the loss column with the Pelicans and Timberwolves.
In the first quarter, the Thunder looked engaged on both ends of the floor, opening the game on a 7-0 run. Paul George started the quarter with an aggressive mindset, Steven Adams was getting easy looks around the rim, and Westbrook was dishing the rock masterfully. Alex Abrines even took off for a rim-rattling jam over Jordan Bell. The Warriors struggled offensively for the first half of the quarter, until Kevin Durant got going. Durant’s shots started to fall and that kickstarted Golden State’s offense. He would ultimately score 15 points in the quarter but the Thunder led 27-21 after the first.
The second quarter took a complete 180 from the first, as OKC’s offense went from fluid to stagnant. There was no ball movement, no player movement, or any type of action that led to anything successful. The Thunder’s offense turned into Westbrook forcing up a shot or the offense leading to turnovers. The Warriors capitalized on OKC’s mistakes and picked the Thunder apart on offense. Golden State was able to get easy looks at the basket, thanks to passes from Draymond Green and David West. The Warriors outscored the Thunder 33-20 in the 2nd quarter.
The Thunder came out in the second half looking like a team fighting for their playoff lives. The offense immediately looked different, as they started sharing the ball more. Carmelo Anthony sank two free throws to pull the Thunder within single-digits, then Westbrook put his stamp on the quarter. Westbrook scored 17 points in the third quarter, he did not look to distribute the ball, he strictly put his head down and got to the rim at will. The avalanche from Westbrook pulled the Thunder right back into the game, as he led a 23-13 run and capped it off with a three. The Warriors were able to score the last four points of the quarter, and they led 84-81 after three.
The fourth quarter had the makings of a classic with Durant and Westbrook trying to out-duel each other for a win in Oklahoma City. The score was tight, with Golden State hanging on to a 94-91 lead. Westbrook made a mid-range pull up to trim the lead to one, but Durant answered with a three. The Warriors executed better down the stretch, utilizing every player on the floor. Damian Jones scored six crucial points down the stretch, thanks to OKC’s slow switches. After a dunk from Jones, the Thunder trailed 107-101. The Thunder made a final push, trimming the lead to two, after free throws from George and a dunk from Corey Brewer. Quinn Cook sealed the game at the free throw line and gave the Warriors the victory.
The Thunder shot just 38% from the field and only made 9 threes out of 38 attempts. They also missed nine free throws in a tightly contested battle. The Thunder dominated the rebound battle 58-40 but the Warriors dominated the assists column 27-13. They also turned the ball over 16 times and gave up 18 points off their turnovers.
Westbrook carried the Thunder with 44 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists. George had an inefficient 20 points on 5-of-19 shooting. Melo also had a tough shooting night, scoring 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Adams had 13 rebounds but only 7 points on just six shots.
Durant led the Warriors with 34 points, 10 rebounds, while nailing all 14 of his free throws. Thompson scored 20 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Green only scored 5 points but dished out 8 key assists. The Warriors bench scored 38 points on the night.
The Thunder put themselves in a tough position for the remainder of the season, needing wins now more than ever. The road does not get easier, as they face the Rockets on Saturday night.