The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, but “beat” isn’t a strong enough verb. They trounced them, demolished them, devastated them, clobbered them. They didn’t let up. The Thunder still had every starter on the court with a 20-point lead with less than two minutes to play. This was a merciless slaying of the league’s most fearsome dragon.
Paul George had a transition dunk with 5:49 left in the first quarter, and Oklahoma City never trailed after that. The Warriors trailed by 17 points at halftime, and by 26 late in the third quarter. That’s the largest deficit they’ve had all season. The last time they trailed a team by that much, it was last year’s season opener against the San Antonio Spurs.
Every Thunder player was great, especially the big three. Here’s a massive Russell Westbrook dunk ...
... and George with plays on both sides.
It was like that all night — Oklahoma with transition points and emphatic driving dunks and stifling defense that truly seemed to frustrate the best offense in the league.
Westbrook finished with 34 points and one assist shy of a triple-double. George frustrated the Warriors all night defensively, while recording 20 points and 11 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony settled into a reliable tertiary role that netted him 22 points on 17 field goal attempts. Oklahoma City didn’t get much from its bench (12 points total), but when those three stars — the OK3? — go off, they don’t need much.
The Warriors have had a few shaky moments early in the season, but it’s strange seeing them get beat this badly. Obviously, the regular season doesn’t matter for them, and they’re purposefully trying to avoid another run at 73 wins because of the toll it took on the team. Still, some thought the Warriors were so talented they might just back into a 70-win season just by accident. They still might!
Oklahoma City has been great defensively, and the Warriors actually had problems scoring. How much of that was Oklahoma City, and how much was the Warriors’ own doing, is up for debate. Obviously, Golden State was very aware of who its opponent was, especially as Durant was booed for the entire night by a hostile Thunder crowd.
There’s time to figure out what this win means, and whether it shows that Oklahoma City actually has a chance against Golden State in the playoffs.
But on Wednesday, the Thunder smacked Golden State with authority. In the past four seasons of this Warriors dynasty, and especially since Durant arrived, there just aren’t many instances of any team doing that.