Thunder wins another tight one, 119-116 over Golden State

The Thunder overcame a 48-point performance from Monta Ellis to win a high-scoring affair in Oakland.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: February 8, 2012

—A glitch on the scoreboard inside Oracle Arena at the start of the fourth quarter delayed play for several minutes Tuesday night.

Fittingly, an absurd amount of points was the problem. The Thunder was listed to have 191 points to Golden State’s 93 going into the final period.

It only felt like that many.

And that was the problem for the Thunder. By no means was this Oklahoma City’s preferred style of play. The Thunder is supposed to be a defensive-minded bunch, with ample discipline to avoid getting sucked into speed traps like this.

But playing on the second night of a back-to-back that saw the first game require overtime, the Thunder simply lacked the proper focus to stick to its principles.

Yet, the best team in the NBA just keeps on winning.

The Thunder stole a 119-116 shootout this time, bringing its league-best record to 20-5.

“It was a great game for the fans,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It’s not the way that we anticipated it going into the game. But sometimes you have to win different ways. And our guys never gave up. Golden State was on fire.”

Kevin Durant shook off a slow start to score a team-high 33 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Thunder. His 18-foot bank shot from the left elbow off an inbounds pass from James Harden served as the go-ahead bucket, giving the Thunder a 117-116 lead with lead with 14.2 seconds remaining.

Durant admitted afterward that he didn’t call glass.

Monta Ellis missed a 3-pointer at the other end, and Russell Westbrook provided the final margin by canning two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to play.

The Thunder improved to 11-4 on the road, 2-1 on this five-game road trip and 6-1 in games decided by four points or less.

“That’s the sign of a good team. That’s the sign of maturing, because it’s a fine line between winning and losing,” said reserve center Nazr Mohammed.

Westbrook, who did the heavy lifting offensively early on, added 31 points with seven assists. Daequan Cook made five of six 3-pointers for 17 points, and Harden added 19 points and seven assists off the bench.

Obviously, with those numbers, offense wasn’t the issue. The Thunder’s defense was as deficient as it’s been all year. And even in victory, performances such as these can be troubling.

Oklahoma City allowed the Warriors to break their own opponent high for points in a game, previously 109 in an 11-point loss in this same building on Jan. 27. And Golden State shot 55 percent, narrowly missing the opponent high for field-goal percentage (56.3 percent) set by Clippers inside the Staples Center on Jan. 30.

Wednesday's box score: Thunder 119, Golden State 116