Last Saturday was Oklahoma City's chance to beat the Warriors. They should have, before the Stephen Curry 38-foot game winner that shook the world. In Thursday's quick rematch, Golden State briefly showed vulnerability before pushing past the Thunder for a decisive 121-106 win.
The game was still great, with Golden State only pulling away in the final minutes. The Thunder were virtually always within striking distance, but trailing in Oracle Arena, there was no choice but expect the Warriors to pull it out. They have all season, after all, and they did once again, led by Curry's 33 points on 12-of-25 shooting.
Early on, it was all the Thunder could do to hang around. In the second quarter, Stephen Curry nailed yet another three-point from beyond 30 feet which was immediately followed by a Marreese Speights triple. Somehow, the Thunder hung in, answering back and staying close enough. They trailed by a point at the end of the first frame and by two at halftime.
In the third, Oklahoma City pulled ahead early, jumping out in front by as many as nine points. But their shot selection worsened as the quarter progressed, partly due to Golden State's increasingly difficult defense but partly because Dion Waiters and Westbrook were just taking bad shots.
The Warriors were never out of it. An 18-3 run to end the third and start the fourth predictably allowed them surge back ahead, and Oklahoma City never recovered. By the final few minutes, Golden State extended their lead into double figures and pushed ahead to improve to an absurd 55-5 this year.
Turnovers doom Oklahoma City
When you play the Warriors, you can't give up possessions, especially ones that directly lead them into highly efficient fast break opportunities that Golden State use to eviscerate teams and fuel their huge, deadly runs that can turn a close game into an unmanageable one seemingly in seconds. The Thunder didn't have that many, but even 14 as a team is too many, especially when a good number were catastrophic ones directly leading to points. Durant, as good as he was in every other area of the floor with 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting plus really solid defense, was the main culprit, tallying up nine turnovers by his lonesome. Take away just a few of those plays from the Thunder's ledger, and there's a good chance they could have stole this game on the road -- but it wasn't to be.
Russell Westbrook needs to give Durant more help
Westbrook's one of the best, but sometimes, the aggression and never-say-die mentality and the total lack of fear in any situation -- the stuff that makes him great -- can backfire. On Thursday, there were too many wild, pull-up three-pointers and forced shots with defenders around him. Despite 22 points, Westbrook's 8-of-24 shooting wasn't enough to assist his co-star Durant.
Still, every game should be Thunder-Warriors
What else can you say? Last Saturday's overtime thriller was probably the best NBA game we've got all season. Thursday's game was great, too, even if the final score was lopsided. Between Curry, Durant, Westbrook and Draymond Green, any game between these two involve four of the NBA's top 10 biggest stars. I mean, come on, of course these games are incredible.
This is it for the regular season. We can only pray these two teams meet in the playoffs. Oklahoma City wasn't healthy last year; Golden State is still heavy favorites to win the championship, but there's a sliver of doubt, just because we haven't seen the Thunder lose a series totally healthy since 2012. Please let these two teams meet in the playoffs. Please.
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