It’s gotta be the halftime instructions. The Thunder trailed Golden State by one after the first quarter, managed to squeak out a two-point lead after the second, and then went up 36-23 in the third en route to a 104-95 win in beautiful downtown Oakland.
Or maybe not. Neither team shot especially well (around 42 percent), and rebounds were pretty even (49-48 OKC). Or you might look at this statistic: the Warriors pulled off a respectable seven steals. Russell Westbrook, all by his lonesome, came up with eight. His teammates had eight more. Golden State, a team which is renowned for its ability to force turnovers, gave up 23 of them, one every two minutes; the Thunder, which isn’t known for brilliant ball control, turned it over only 16 times.
Certainly most of Golden State’s offense was present and accounted for. Monta Ellis was bottled up a bit thank you, Thabo Sefolosha but Stephen Curry and Corey Maggette split 47 points between them, and eight of the Warriors’ 23 trey attempts paid off. Inexplicably, they missed eight of 21 free throws.
And here’s a sentence that seems a bit astounding: “Kevin Durant had a below-average 29 points.” Kid Delicious was slow to get started, and only hit 7 of 21 from the floor, but he contributed eight boards to the cause. Westbrook had seven rebounds, 21 points and 10 assists. OKC was 22-24 from the charity stripe and bought six treys in 14 tries. Nick Collison pulled down 10 boards.
So that’s five straight wins for the Weather-Related. There’s one more game on this road trip, against the Frail Blazers (bless you, Basketbawful), who somehow keep winning despite the absence of Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla and Brandon Roy. Either they have the world’s greatest bench or there’s a Rose Garden curse. I think the Lakers believed the latter up until tonight.