All eyes in the NBA world were on the return of Kevin Durant to face the OKC Thunder in Oklahoma City for the first time since leaving to join the Golden State Warriors this summer.
The OKC Thunder were defeated by former Thunder Buddy Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors 130-114. It’s extremely rare when a game that’s been hyped up for months lives up to expectations, and despite the final score, this game was fun nearly throughout.
The OKC Thunder were defeated by the same shortcomings that they’ve had all season long; most notably, extremely poor play in the brief moments when Russell Westbrook had to rest. OKC played beautiful basketball for the first six-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter before Golden State started to find their groove.
To be fair, all parties seemed to be on edge at the beginning of the game, and the wonderfully raucous crowd at the Peake threatened to come unglued at a moment’s notice. The Thunder found themselves down over 20 points at the end of the first half, and in the second half is when things started to get…chippy.
The Thunder started to chip away at the Golden State lead, fueled by the heroic efforts of Russell Westbrook once again. For a portion of the third quarter, Kevin Durant was guarding Westbrook, and it was everything a basketball fan could hope for. Russ took it to Durant, and going into a timeout, Russ was seen jawing at Durant, repeatedly saying “I’m coming.”
Despite having a great night statistically (34 points on 12-21 shooting and 9 rebounds), things did not come easily for Kevin Durant. He was booed every time he touched the ball, and he was serenaded with chants of “cupcake” from the OKC Thunder faithful. Later in the third quarter, Durant was fouled by Andre Roberson and the two went nose-to-nose while exchanging words.
The OKC Thunder cut the lead to as little as twelve, but a thirty foot 3-pointer from KD was the final nail in the coffin for the Thunder this evening. Westbrook led all players with 47 points, in addition to 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and a career-high 11 turnovers.
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Victor Oladipo had a very quiet but efficient 20 points on 9-15 shooting. Steven Adams was the only other player on the Thunder to score in double digits with 13 points. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both chipped in 26 points apiece for the Warriors. Javale McGee chipped in an unexpected 16 points on 7-8 shooting, an Draymond Green added 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Despite the bench of OKC having a continued lack of success, I was extremely impressed with the effort and heart shown by every member of the OKC Thunder tonight. Even down 26, they did not quit for even one second against a team that is in a league of it’s own.
The OKC Thunder remain in the 7th seed of the Western Conference despite falling to 31-24. The Thunder are off on Sunday before traveling to Washington to face the red hot Wizards, and former Thunder Buddy Coach Scott Brooks.