Final from Oakland. GSW 122 Thunder 96. Headed home for Sat 5p vs MIN. #ThunderUp
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 4, 2016
In the Thunder’s first game against former player Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City fell 96-122 to Golden State in Oakland. The Thunder started the game off strong by taking a ten-point lead midway through the first quarter, but Durant led Golden State on a tear that helped the Warriors to a 25-point halftime lead. At that point, the game was essentially over as Golden State never let the Thunder get closer than 21.
Russ Struggles While Others Flourish
Russell Westbrook had a rough shooting night managing only four makes on fifteen shots. He did shoot 10/14 from the free throw line, which helped him tally 20 points. He also tacked on six rebounds and 10 assists in a game where he did not see the court in the fourth quarter.
Other starters, however, stepped up and played a solid game. Victor Oladipo shot an impressive 8/13 from the field (4/6 from three) for 21 points to go along with three rebounds. Steven Adams scored 11 points on 5/7 shooting while also grabbing four rebounds.
Domantis Sabonis played his best minutes yet scoring 13 points on 6/12 shooting while pulling down six rebounds and handing out three assists. The young fella had not played much lately, mostly due to foul trouble, but he was able to play some solid basketball tonight.
Bench Needs Improvement….NOW
The bench played about as poorly as they possibly could have, despite getting a ton of fourth quarter minutes. They totaled only 29 points, 19 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Russell Westbrook is clearly going to lead the team statistically, and hopefully the other starters will back him up, but the bench has to be reliable enough to be able to come in to the game and keep things under control. That was not the case tonight as Kevin Durant and the Warriors’ starters torched the second unit time and time again.
Free Throw Shooting Need Improvement
The Thunder shot an abysmal 57% from the free throw line on 16/28 shots. Over the years, Oklahoma City has been near the top in the league in free throw shooting, but so far this season, they have struggled.
The Thunder is a physical team, and because of this, they are able to get to the free throw line easily. If they want to be successful in the long run, they desperately need to be able to make shots from the charity stripe.
Emotions Ride High
All stats aside, the most noticeable factor of the game was the level of emotion involved on both sides. Kevin Durant played with a chip on his shoulder, looking for any chance to talk trash, and multiple member of the Thunder were letting Durant know exactly what they thought about him.
Russell Westbrook did not play particularly well, but not necessarily because of the emotion of the moment. In the end, the odds were simply stacked against the Thunder, and there was little that could be done to alter the outcome of the game.
Oklahoma City hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at 5 PM, the first of a five-game home stretch. All five home games are winnable, and after a blowout loss to the Warriors, the Thunder cannot falter against a young Minnesota team that is very capable of winning against a quality opponent on the road.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter.