Tonight’s game between the Thunder and Golden State figures to light up the scoreboard at Chesapeake Energy Arena. OKC leads the NBA in scoring (105.9) and the Warriors are seventh (101.3). The Thunder is No. 1 in free-throw percentage (.834) and Golden State (.803) is No. 2.
The Warriors were victimized by the scoreboard last night, losing 140-109 at Houston as the Rockets tied an NBA record with 23 3-pointers while shooting 57.5 percent beyond the arc. Houston was 14 for 18 (.778) on 3-pointers in the first half alone en route to scoring 77 point by intermission. The Warriors (30-18) intentionally fouled the Rockets in the closing minutes to prevent them from breaking the league record.
“I had to watch it. I like offense and both teams were really good on offense,” four-time All-Star Kevin Durant said. “It was a crazy game at the end, but it was a fun game to watch as far as how fast it was and how well guys were playing. Hopefully, Golden State doesn’t come out and do that to us, hit those 3s on the road. We’ve got to make sure we correct that early on, play hard and make those guys shoot tough shots.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks also watched last night’s game. “They were on fire. They were hot. They were making every shot they threw up that first half,” Brooks said. “Probably won’t see another first half like that in the NBA the rest of the season. I’m sure they (the Warriors) are going to respond. They’re a very prideful team. They have a very prideful coach (Mark Jackson) and they have a good record for a reason.”
Jackson is viewed by many as the leading contender for NBA Coach of the Year and Durant said the Warriors have taken on their coach’s personality.
“He’s a New York guy. That’s how they are up there in New York – tough-minded, never get rattled,” Durant said. “I always had so much respect for Mark Jackson and everything he stood for, as a man first off. He’s bringing a new identity there to Golden State. The guys are playing hard for him, they love playing for him. I know a few guys on the team who say he’s a player’s coach. Best thing about that is we have the same type of coach here that you love playing for, very humble and just lets you play your game.”
In their last meeting, Golden State defeated the Thunder 104-99 in Oakland two weeks ago and sealed the game when Stephen Curry intercepted Durant’s pass to a cutting Kendrick Perkins in the lane with 14.9 seconds left and OKC trailing 101-99.
“They beat us last time, so they’ve got some confidence,” Durant said. “It’s kind of like we’re playing up and down, so we’ve got to string something together and at home is the perfect time to do it.” OKC is 21-3 at The Peake this season.
Warriors center Andrew Bogut has returned from his ankle injury, but is not expected to play tonight. As part of his rehabilitation process, Bogut reportedly will not be used on the back end of back-to-back games until after the All-Star break. The Thunder has not faced Bogut since Nov. 20, 2010, when he had eight points and 12 rebounds with Milwaukee in an 82-81 loss to OKC.
“They’re obviously a very good team without him, and they’re one of the best teams with him with what he brings to the table,” Brooks said. “They probably run their offense as hard as any team in the league.”
- John Rohde