Thunder 120, Warriors 109
Observations from the Thunder’s 120-109 victory over Golden State at Oracle Arena on Friday night:
- Thunder All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are starting to have fun with their allegedly poor working relationship. As media waited inside the locker room after Friday’s game, a row of smiling OKC teammates started dogging each other about their wardrobes. They were kidding, or perhaps they weren’t. It doesn’t really matter. When the good-natured ribbing increased in volume, Durant spoke to Westbrook just loud enough for reporters to hear. “Look, Durant and Westbrook are arguing again. They’re arguing and arguing,” Durant whispered. Westbrook pointed at one reporter and said, “Look, he’s writing that down.” (Actually, I did write that down and you just read it – in its entire context.)
- Speaking of Durant vs. Westbrook, you have to read this account of what transpired between Durant and a local television commentator during pre-game warmups. This is vintage Durant and, no, there probably isn’t a better guy in the NBA, although a handful of his teammates aren’t far off – Nick Collison, Nazr Mohammed, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha, Royal Ivey and Daequan Cook head the list of runners-up.
- Serge Ibaka, who is always the last Thunder player to finish showering and dressing, seemed surprised when I waited him out after all other players had departed. Ibaka had a look that said (in broken English, of course) “You want to talk to me?” With a shrug, Ibaka said, “I try to do my best to be there for us.” Ibaka was an absolute monster against Golden State with season highs in points (20) and rebounds (12). Warriors coach Mark Jackson mentioned Durant, Westbrook and James Harden as three guys who can “take over a basketball game.” But when you throw Ibaka into the mix, well, good luck with that. “Serge Ibaka did what we’ve been asking our big guys to do,” Jackson said.
- The only downer about Ibaka’s night: His streak of 31 straight games with at least one blocked shot ended. It was the longest active streak in the NBA, according to STATS, Inc.
- Durant had a season-high 37 points and 14 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Which stat did he like more? “Man, I was past due with the big scoring night, so it felt good to score some points,” Durant said. “With the rebounds, it’s not every night I can go get 14, so that feels good to help my team out in that aspect.”
- Miami’s LeBron James might be having his best all-around season so far, but Durant is right there with him for league MVP. In fact, Durant might be slightly ahead.
- Perkins is the anti-Westbrook. How so? Unlike Perkins, Westbrook fills up a stat sheet – 28 points, 11 assists, seven steals, seven turnovers and six rebounds against Golden State. Meanwhile, Perkins had two points, five rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Make no mistake, however. Perk is a huge reason the Thunder is doing so well. “He brings it every night,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “I never look at his stat sheet. I always skip his name when I look at it. It’s not about stats. He does so many things for us that looking at a stat sheet does an injustice to his game.”
- I saw footage of Harden’s penetrating moves as a player at Arizona State. He makes it look even easier now that he is in the NBA. How can that possibly be?
- Sefolosha left the game with a sore right foot in the first quarter, got it re-taped and returned in the second quarter, only to be scorched by rookie guard Klay Thompson, who had 10 first-half points. “I tried to come back, but I couldn’t chase anybody. I couldn’t do anything, so I called it a night,” said Sefolosha, who officially is listed as day-to-day. By the way, “day-to-day” might as well be added to the official list of “The Thunder Way.” Everybody is listed as day-to-day. If only it were true with reserve guard Eric Maynor.
- Speaking of Maynor, he did not make the trip, but as a tribute the team posts his name plate and hangs his game jersey in a locker for every game.
- Cook didn’t miss a shot from 3-point range on Wednesday night against New Orleans (3 for 3) and didn’t make a shot from 3-point range on Friday (0 for 4). Ahh, the life of a shooter.
- Golden State’s scouting report on the Thunder included several items. Among the many things scribbled on the whiteboard inside the Warriors’ locker room: “OKC 27th in turnovers;” a warning about Westbrook “laying in the weeds for steals on outlet passes;” and also “Durant: Make him play defense.”
- The Thunder made just 4 of 17 (.235) 3-pointers compared to 12 of 28 (.429) for the Warriors. OKC was outscored by 24 from 3-point range, but Golden State was outscored by 17 at the free-throw line. The Thunder regained its touch from the line (32 of 37 for .865). The Warriors made 15 of 19 (.789).
- A whole lot of turnovers (42 total) weren’t turned into a whole lot of points (30 total).
- Pointing out the obvious, when the Warriors make 3-pointers, they’re really good. When they don’t, they’re really not.
- At LA Clippers on Monday night.
- John Rohde
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