Warriors Hold Off The Thunder In The Game Of The Year, 116-108

Feb 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles the ball past Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) in the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles the ball past Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) in the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

41. 108. 149. Final. 116

Well that was some game. It might have been the best all around contest of the season so far. In a contest that looked to be heading for a blowout in the second quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied well in the second half but to no avail, as the NBA champion Golden State Warriors sustained a second half barrage from the Thunder to beat who could be their main rivals 116-108.

Despite the loss, the Thunder can walk out of Oracle Arena with their heads held high. There are lessons to be learned. For the neutrals it was terrific viewing, a see sawing contest that saw the Thunder lead 9-0 before a 60-31 stretch by Golden State put them 20 points ahead not long before the half.

The Thunder started brilliantly, with Russell Westbrook immediately taking Steph Curry down in the post. A Serge Ibaka three, a couple of Kevin Durant buckets and the Thunder had taken the initiative early. They were executing offensively and staying disciplined defensively. However Golden State can still make the toughest of shots look effortless, and a series of them helped them rally their way to a quarter time lead 36-31.

Harrison Barnes had 16 points in the first half, and was key in helping them establish their early advantage. Pick and roll defense was a first half issue, as the Warriors eased their way to 32 first half points in the paint. The Thunder were switching almost everything defensively and it worked somewhat, but they at time did not have the discipline to make it work. A combination of switching off and Golden State hitting tough shots saw them trail by 14 at the half.

Starting the second quarter without Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook might have been a downfall of the game for Billy Donovan’s team, but it must be said that this is only one regular season game. Donovan has to give different lineups and looks a chance against the Warriors to determine what works. He must also not play all of his cards at once, so not to give the Warriors an early insight into key playoff match ups.

Oklahoma City were much better in the second half, and put the clamps on the Warriors defensively. They only scored 43 points in the second half, but key execution late finally got them the win. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes hit a pair of late threes in two smoothly executed sets. Durant hit a pair of 4th quarter threes that brought the Thunder close, but they weren’t enough to get the win.

Ultimately despite the contributions of Durant (40 points on 12-25 shooting, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks), Westbrook (27 points on 8-22 shooting, 3 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals) and Enes Kanter (14 points on 7-10 shooting and 15 rebounds in just 20 minutes), the Thunder just didn’t get enough from their supporting cast. Against a team as deep as the Warriors that’s going to cost you, and that might have been the killer blow tonight.

"Lightning Bolts"

  • Kevin Durant played like the Best Player in the NBA tonight. He hit big shots all game long, and defended as well as he ever has. Steph Curry struggled from deep (1-8), but had 26 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals for the Warriors.
  • The Thunder defended the three ball very well, holding the Warriors to 7-26 shooting. They forced lots of mid range looks, and this might be an insight on how best to limit Golden State’s potent offense.
  • Serge Ibaka was barely spotted in Oakland tonight. He might have played 36 minutes, but had only 8 points and 3 rebounds. His anonymity is becoming a real issue.
  • Enes Kanter wasn’t horrible! He was acceptable defensively, and provided a real spark in the fourth quarter. The big Turk might have a bigger than expected role to play in future games.
  • Dion Waiters did alright defensively, particularly in the first half. But he will need more of a statistical impact in the games to come, with only 4 points (1-5 shooting), 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals.
  • If you take away Kanter’s impact off the bench, the other three players (Kyle Singler, Cameron Payne and Anthony Morrow) had 3 points between them. Not going to be enough on any night.
  • Don’t get too disheartened. It’s only one regular season game. They play twice more before the playoffs, and we haven’t seen enough to make any judgments as of yet. Keep the faith.
  • Next Game: @ Phoenix, Monday February 8, 8PM CST.

"Tweet of the Night"

Glorious, isn’t it.