The Thunder scored the first nine points of the evening, and I thought: Don’t do that. You’ll make them angry. You won’t like them when they’re angry. The Warriors did a slow burn, caught up before the end of the first quarter, rolled up 73 points in the first half, and ran to leads as big as twenty. Still, OKC hung in there, and with 3:36 left, finally tied it up at 104, only to see Golden State go on a 6-0 run, and the Thunder would be no threat thereafter. Final score: Warriors 116, Thunder 108, and I suspect it could have been much worse than that.
One problem with OKC tonight was getting points out of the bench. They played defense tolerably well, but they were positively immune to the lure of the net: in the first 34 minutes, the Thunder reserves had scored a total of four points, all from Enes Kanter. Cameron Payne hit a trey late in the third, but in the fourth, Kanter knocked down ten and the rest of the bench had zilch. The Warriors’ three-point prowess was probably at a pre-Super Bowl party; it certainly didn’t show up tonight (7-26, even worse than the Thunder’s 7-22). Fortunately, the Golden State system lets everybody score, and while Stephen Curry posted a modest 26 points and Klay Thompson an okay 18, there were plenty of others to take up whatever slack existed. (Harrison Barnes had 19, something he hadn’t had in the 49 previous games this year.)
The dismal showing by the bench meant that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had to crank up their scoring. KD turned in 40 on 12-25; Westbrook 27 on 8-22. At least they made all their free throws, 22 between them — though the rest of the team went 7-15 from the stripe. The Warriors weren’t any better, making only 13 of 20. Then again, this was a case where they didn’t have to be.
This brief road trip ends Monday at Phoenix, followed by a single home game against the Pelicans and then the All-Star break. If OKC takes both, they’ll be at 40-14, and will most likely still be third in the West, the Golden State and San Antonio juggernauts showing no sign of faltering.