First, the bad news: the Thunder’s fourth quarter was about as lackluster as their last half-dozen fourth quarters. The good news: they absolutely ruled during the first 36 minutes, running up a lead (!) on the Warriors (!!) as high as 26 points, leading ESPN’s Royce Young to ask:
How big does the Thunder lead have to be until anyone believes they'll actually hold on to it tonight? 50? 200?
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) November 23, 2017
For the record, I said 29. After all, it wasn’t that long ago — two games, I think — that Golden State was down more than 20 at halftime and still pulled out a win.
[Two games it was. The 76ers were up 74-52 at halftime, but the Warriors blitzed them 47-15 in the third and won by eight.]
But when the Warriors were well into the fourth and still double digits out, Steve Kerr found a traveling-white flag to wave, the starters were pulled, and it ended Oklahoma City 108, Golden State 91. If you gotta break a losing streak, this is the way to do it, and the sideshows — Draymond Green collected a technical for his eternal scowl, and double Ts were levied against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — will put this one into the history books.
How was this even possible? Twenty-two Warrior turnovers, from which the Thunder wrung 34 points, and actual shooting from the Thunder shooters. Westbrook: 34-10-9 on 13-27. Carmelo Anthony: 22 points on 8-17. Paul George: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 8-19. Steven Adams: 14-12 on 4-8. (Yeah, the bench only scored 12, half of them from Raymond Felton. You’ll get over it.)
The two guys you’d expect to garner points for Golden State did so: KD and Steph Curry each picked up 24 points — and minus-17s for their trouble. Green didn’t make a shot until the third quarter, and Klay Thompson was an improbable 3 of 12, though he got 9 points for his trouble. A lot of it, though, was simply not having the ball. (See “turnovers,” supra.) The Warriors got ten fewer shots (and eight fewer makes), and rebounds, to the tune of 50-38, belonged to OKC.
Is this some sort of turning point for the Thunder? That 14-point fourth quarter says “Not necessarily.” We’ll know more Friday night, with Andre Drummond and the Pistons in town to try to clear those boards.