The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors are projected to be two of the top teams in the NBA this season. Thursday night’s showdown on TNT showed the rest of the country why both teams are legitimate contenders in the Western Conference.
Russell Westbrook led the way for the Thunder, as he scored 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting, including a cold blooded three-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to give the Thunder the lead at 115-114. Westbrook also added nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals on the night.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma City, following Westbrook’s shot from way beyond the arc, Andre Iguodala connected on a baseline jumper as time expired to give Golden State a dramatic 116-115 victory.
Kevin Durant poured in 20 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds for the Thunder. Serge Ibaka went off for 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 13 rebounds, one night removed from being ejected during the Thunder loss to the Clippers at Staples Center.
The main downfall for the Thunder was defending the Warriors potent three-point game. Golden State shot 14-of-23 from long distance, and seemingly connected on every single attempt from behind the arc through the first three quarters.
Oklahoma City’s bench played well. Reggie Jackson led the way, as he scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, in addition to grabbing five rebounds.
Regardless of the result, the Thunder showed a lot of resilience at Oracle Arena by fighting back from 14 points down early in the fourth quarter, especially considering the physical nature of their previous game in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
Keys to the Game
Cool the Warriors
The Thunder were not able to contain the Warriors 3-point shooting. Golden State shot 14-of-23 from long distance. Thompson went off for 27 points on 6-of-9 shots from behind the arc, and Curry added 22 points on 4-of-8 threes.
Play well, bench
The bench played decently tonight. Jackson led the way with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and he also had five rebounds. Jackson was a team high +10 when he was on the floor. The rest of the bench only went 5-of-15 for 13 points.
Get to the line
Oklahoma City was able to frequently get to the line. The Thunder went 24-of-28 from the charity stripe, which is really what kept them in the game. Ibaka went 9-of-9 from the line, while Durant went 8-of-9.