Golden State Warriors 121 — OKC Thunder 118 OT
OKC’s Thunder played their hearts out on Saturday night against the historic Golden Warriors and should have won this basketball game, but instead a glaring mental mistake by Kevin Durant with twelve seconds left in regulation cost the Thunder their best win in two seasons. It can’t be about moral victories for Durant and Westbrook in 2016, instead it has to be more about getting it done in the present tense.
It’s a simple play you see in almost every one possession NBA game. The Thunder were leading 101-99 and inbounded the ball under their basket. The ball went to Durant who usually would be fouled in this situation. But the Warriors didn’t want any part of the free throw game and suckered Durant into making a horrible pass at midcourt instead of calling timeout and moving the ball up court. The errant pass was ultimately corralled by Draymond Green. With less than a second left, Andre Iguodala ended up with the ball on the left elbow and was fouled by Durant with .7 left in regulation
Iguodala is a 61% free throw shooter, but he stepped up and coolly dropped both free throws to send the game to overtime and give Steph Curry five more minutes to do his thing. Moral of the story–when you have your foot on Steph Curry’s throat , never give him a second life.
To make matters even worse, Kevin Durant fouled out of the game less than one minute into the overtime. But to Russell Westbrook and the Thunder’s credit they didn’t cave and actually led by three points with 33 seconds left in the overtime. But a driving layup by Klay Thompson and an and one tied the game–then that guy named Steph Curry hit a three inside midcourt with less than a second left to steal a game for his Warriors which Durant and his Thunder basically had won in regulation.
I’ll be curious when I read some of the Thunder beat writers if they write this aspect of the finish or just gloss over it saying how the Thunder turned a corner tonight. No corner was turned tonight—the Thunder lost a game they shouldn’t have lost. Period.
The Thunder did play markedly harder, but in the end this isn’t the Thunder in 2008 trying to learn how to win games during an inaugural 23-59 season, but rather a team with Durant and Westbrook at the point in their careers where they shouldn’t lose games like this—even to Steph Curry.
Steph Curry was magnificent scoring 46 points and going 12-16 from behind the arc. He set the single game record for threes and broke his own mark of 286 threes in a season by reaching the 288 mark with 24 games left. Steph Curry is my No. 1 Star of the Game. Duh.
Klay Thompson struggled early, but got it going when it mattered and complimented Curry with 32 points of his own.
Draymond Green was just plain ornery. Green didn’t score the ball, but did have 14 rebounds and 14 assists. He and Durant barked at each other leaving the court at halftime—then according to ABC’s Lisa Salter barked at his teammates during a heated halftime locker room conversation. The Warriors trailed 57-46 at half and trailed by as many as fourteen points in the game, but again you never count Steph Curry out.
Except for the end, Kevin Durant was magnificent, but it’s how you do or don’t close which defines a superstar’s play. That’s just the way it is. Westbrook was mostly excellent, and Serge Ibaka had some great moments with 15 points, 20 rebounds and several big buckets in the game’s final eight minutes.
But in the end it’s a gut wrenching loss for Oklahoma City which should have been a win and the validation that the Thunder with Durant and Westbrook can beat any team on a given night. Instead, OKC is now 1-4 combined against the Warriors, Cavs, and Spurs…and the cloud surrounding this team is if they have the mental stuff to beat either the Spurs, Warriors, and Cavs four times in a two week span to win a series against any of the three–let alone all three in succession to claim an NBA crown. I would simply say—I don’t think so because they keep making dumb plays and teams which aren’t razor sharp mentally don’t win championships.
OKC now heads west for a tough three game road swing with stops in Sacramento, in LA against the Clips, and these very same Warriors on the second night of a road back to back.
The thought now isn’t just about losing this game, but coming back home after the west road swing still holding the No. 3 seed in the West.
Thunder in Sacramento on Monday night to play the Kings.