The Thunder went on the road to Oakland tonight to play the Warriors at Oracle arena. Oklahoma City was riding a four game losing streak. On the other hand, the Warriors were coming off of a loss and until this point had been 11-0 after a loss this season. The odds were stacked against the Thunder, but they came out and pulled off the victory in spite of what all the statistics said. This game was never close, and the Thunder stayed on the gas petal until the last buzzer.
Russell Westbrook dished to Steven Adams on the first play for an easy dunk, which was followed by another Adams dunk on the next possession. The Warriors were finding ways to score, but not at the rate that the Thunder were putting up points. Westbrook went 9/11 from the field for 21 points in the first quarter. He was scoring at will and doing whatever he wanted to the Warriors defense.
After having a huge impact early, Adams was forced to sit down after picking up three quick fouls. Adams played a total of 5 minutes in the first half. To add salt to the wound, Carmelo Anthony went out with a sprained ankle. It seemed like this would be the break the Warriors needed. However, Paul George took over on both offense and defense. Russell Westbrook was the star in the first quarter, but then Paul George stole the show after that. The Warriors went on a bit of a run to end the quarter, which was expected. The warriors are too good to be shut down for an entire game. However, the Thunder weathered the storm and held a 70-57 lead at halftime.
Draymond Green was given a technical foul at the end of the first half. Russell Westbrook was able to start the second half for OKC by making the technical foul shot, which gave the momentum to the Thunder to start the half. The Warriors picked up the intensity on defense, and it was noticeable for the first few minutes. This quickly faded as Paul George made shot after shot on the Warrior defense. George was getting it done on both ends. Many people said this was the best game of Paul George’s career.
The Warriors are the best team in the league in the third quarter, and the Thunder come in 19th. However, the Thunder held the Warriors to only 20 points in the quarter. Oklahoma City outscored them by 9, and extended their lead to 22 points heading into the final quarter.
The Warriors were trying to play catch up for the entire fourth quarter, but the Thunder never let off the gas. It seemed like the Warriors would go on a run at some point, but the Thunder’s defense held them in check all night. The dominating performance by OKC continued throughout the final quarter, giving OKC the 125-105 victory.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Paul George is the Best Two Way Player in the NBA.
There’s always a debate over who is the best two way player in the NBA. Many people think it’s Kawhi Leonard, but I think it’s hands down Paul George. No one gets after it like he does on both ends of the court. He is so smooth defensively with his movements and his downs. On the other end, he shoots the ball so efficiently.
Tonight, George went for 38 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 6 steals. Being able to score and contribute like that on offense all while grabbing six steals was huge for this Thunder team. Russell Westbrook carried this team early, but it was George who got the win tonight.
- Oklahoma City is Going to be Tough to Beat in the Playoffs.
The Thunder now has five wins over the “top tier” teams in the NBA. Two wins over Golden State, one over Cleveland, one over Houston, and one over Toronto. That makes them 5-0 against the best in the league.
This is a team that has struggled against teams with lesser talent. It’s the focus level of this team that hurts them when they play bottom level teams. While I think they will be tough to beat in the playoffs because of how they perform against top teams, they still need to figure out how to come out with the same intensity every night.
- Russell Westbrook Did an Excellent Job at Controlling His Emotions.
Russell Westbrook claims that each game against Golden State is just another game. However, it’s clear that it means so much more to him, and it should. Russ is an emotional guy who often times let’s it get the best of him. In the two matchups against the Warriors this season, Russ has done a great job at bottling up those emotions and controlling them. He has done exactly what he needs to do on both ends of the floor. He hasn’t tried to do too much, and he hasn’t tried to do it all alone. Russell Westbrook seems to have the Warriors figured out.
Chance for Redemption Against the Lakers
The Thunder will be back in action on Thursday night as they take on the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The game will start at 9:30 PM CST and it will be televised on TNT and FSOK.
This will be a great opportunity for the Thunder to avenge their loss to the Lakers last Sunday. The Thunder should be able to handle the Lakers, but after their performance in the matchup it doesn’t seem like a guaranteed win.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.