The Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Golden State Warriors at home, 110-88. In a game that could only be described as profoundly disappointing, OKC failed to make the kind of effort necessary against the league’s best, and were summarily embarrassed by the Warriors despite the absence of Kevin Durant.
Russell Westbrook signed off on what is perhaps one of the worst games of his career, finishing with only 7 points off of 2-16 shooting, 0-7 from three, and 4 turnovers. Even that box score doesn’t really do justice how bad Westbrook was for 3 quarters; his was a collection of spectacularly poor decision-making from the point position, and because of it, and the tone that was set, the Thunder never really even gave themselves a shot in this game.
And that is perhaps the most disappointing of many disappointments we saw unfold in 4 quarters tonight. The Warriors got off to a red-hot start, hitting 7-11 from three to rack up 40 points in the 1st quarter, but even in that poor stretch the Thunder showed they did have some inside presence to work with. Which they of course didn’t, as the majority of shots were from deep, contested, and way off.
Over the course of the next 3 quarters, even though at times their defense was scrambled chasing Stephen Curry around (33 points, 5-12 from three), they held the line. They limited the Warriors to only 42% shooting through the remaining 3 quarters, including 8-24 from three, and forced 14 turnovers. Not spectacular, but pretty darn good.
And yet the offense, which bore no semblance of any type of game plan that could exploit the Warriors, frequently rushed into the first semi-available jumper they could find. What weaknesses might there be? How about the fact that DeMarcus Cousins is slow of foot and foul prone? Yet the Thunder barely ever put him in a situation where he had to aggressively move and recover, and even then he still finished with 4 fouls. And just to make things even more painful to contemplate, when Westbrook finally let go of the idea that he might make a jump shot, he switched focus back into a pure playmaker, started to find guys for open looks, finishing the game with 9 assists.
Here’s Donovan with one of his more astute observations:
Billy Donovan opens with a terrific understatement, saying the Thunder didn’t get off to a great start defensively. Liked the defense over the last 3 quarters, but offense “could never manufacture enough points.”— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) March 17, 2019
His comment is on point because there were at least a half-dozen times (if not more) during this game OKC could have turned things around, and yet each time they showed neither the patience nor the awareness to put themselves in a strong position to score points. Just look at the Warriors’ 2nd half quarterly output — the chances were there. And again, it takes me back to that quote by Paul George (9-25, 4-12 from three for 29 points) where he said he doesn’t need plays called for him. Steph Curry is the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA and he still has plays called for him in order to get him and their offense going.
Are there lessons to be learned from this performance? Yes, of course. And unfortunately, Westbrook may be ruminating it while sitting on the bench next game.
Frustration fouls in the backcourt from both Paul George and Russell Westbrook. And Westbrook picks up a technical foul along with it. Unofficially, that's No. 16 for Westbrook, which is an automatic one game suspension.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 17, 2019