When is a 48-point night from your top scorer, a triple-double from your pivot man and a near perfect game (and a near triple-double) from your point guard not enough to win? When you're the Golden State Warriors, who had those performances out of Monta Ellis, David Lee and Stephen Curry respectively, it's when you play Oklahoma City and Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook remind you why the Thunder are the best team in the NBA, winning 119-116 in Oakland Tuesday night.
Ellis was particularly hot in the first half, where he posted a whopping 30 points in a variety of circus shots around the basket. Ellis had 18 after one, but not even getting a break from Mark Jackson cooled him off as he scored 12 in the second and 10 more in the third to get to 40 after three quarters.
When the Thunder began to assert themselves more in Ellis' direction, the Warriors ran a nice high pick-and-roll with David Lee and soon the Warriors big man began to put numbers up himself. Lee's eventual triple-double came with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and was often the only big man the Warriors offered on the court.
Curry, the third member of Golden State's own Heat Index, was nearly perfect, shooting 7-9 for his 16 points while dishing 10 assists. Curry, along with Ellis as well, also managed to grab seven rebounds as the Warriors were left to scramble for every possible errant Thunder shot while Golden State went small.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, there weren't many of the missed shots for Oklahoma City. Durant shot 13-27 and Westbrook 12-21 for their high scoring nights and the team as a whole shot better than 52 percent. James Harden had a nice game as a third member of the Thunder offensive posse with 19 points, but it was the dead-on shooting of Daequan Cook that made the offensive difference for the team.
Cook couldn't miss from his favorite baseline perch in the short three-point corner, hitting on five of six three-point shots and scoring 17 points. Cook was instrumental in shooting the Thunder back into range among those times when Golden State might have pulled away.
It was likely the best offensive night for Golden State not only in shotmaking, but in their patience with their offense. In the half court, the Warriors often made the extra pass and got a better shot, while making 55 percent of their own shots as well.
Despite this, the Thunder never stopped working, never lost poise and kept themselves in position to win, which they did when Durant hit the go-ahead bank shot with 14 seconds left and Monta Ellis couldn't pull one more basket out of his game, leaving him short of 50 points and the team short the victory.
J.A. Sherman at Welcome to Loud City points out an important truth and key to the Thunder win:
As much as tonight was an offensive explosion by the Warriors, in the end, it was still defense that sealed the Thunder win. After giving up 36 points to the Warriors in the 3rd, OKC buckled down in the 4th and challenged shots better than they had all game. Golden State took a seven point lead with 7:20 remaining, but only scored nine points the rest of the way, and only four in the final 3:40. Because of this, the Thunder were able to close out the game on an 11-4 run to get the win.
For the Warriors point of view, check out Golden State of Mind.