Game story for tomorrow’s paper
The Warriors, on a given night, can beat any team in the NBA, so this year’s mantra goes.
Not when they turn the ball over 20 times. Not when they get outrebounded by 19. Not when two of their top scorers total 28 points on 11-for-33 shooting. That’s the kind of night the Warriors had against Oklahoma City, so it’s no wonder Golden State fell 120-109.
The Warriors (6-12) missed their chance to gain some much-needed momentum, which is exactly what beating the owners of the NBA’s best record would have done.
“We didn’t do it today,”Jacksonsaid. “They dominated us. … They dominated us.”
Instead, the Warriors were lit up for 35 points and 13 rebounds by Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant. They were toyed with by Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who totaled 28 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and seven steals. They were bullied by Oklahoma Citypower forward Serge Ibaka, who finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Oklahoma City grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and outscored the Warriors 58-28 in the paint.
“Their big guys played with a different motor,” Jackson said. “I’m going to find guys that are going to play with a motor. I will live with mistakes. But I need guys to play with energy, effort, passion – pursue the basketball.”
Guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry weren’t able to turn it on at all.
Ellis, who went 2-for-9 in Wednesday’s win over Portland, finished with 13 points on 5-for-17 shooting. Curry’s performance, thanks to a few baskets down the stretch, looked better on paper than it actually was. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting. He and Ellis combined for 12 assists and seven turnovers.
“We’ve got to find a way,” Ellis said. “That means everyone has to step up. Everyone has to do a little more.”
Golden State was doing good to be down just 57-52 at the half. The Warriors were outrebounded by 10, turned the ball over 11 times and put Oklahoma City at the line 20 times.
At that point, Curry was scoreless on five shots, three fouls limiting him to just shy of three minutes in the second quarter. It was a far cry from his usual performances against Oklahoma City.
Last season, Curry averaged 30.5 points against the Thunder, including 39 and 35-point games in Oklahoma City. In seven career games against the Thunder, Curry averages 25.9 points on 58.6 percent shooting – which includes 21-for-39 from 3-point range – with 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals.
Ellis wasn’t much better, posting five points on seven shots the first two quarters.
The two showed some signs in the third quarter, combining for 16 points. A 3-pointer by Curry had the Warriors within 63-61 midway through the third. Moments later, a fast-break layup by Ellis cut the Thunder’s lead to 65-64.
But Oklahoma City closed the third quarter with a 20-13 run. The Thunder had too much size, too many weapons for the Warriors’ defense, especially down the stretch. And without their two horses, the Warriors couldn’t keep up with Oklahoma City.
Durant scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. Westbrook had eight points and five rebounds, banking a 3-pointer to stiff-arm the Warriors’ attempt at a rally. Ibaka scored six in the final period, including a thunderous dunk to punctuate the night.
“A little over six minutes to go, it’s a ball game,” Jackson said. “They scored 28 points in the last (6:03). They have a different motor. They are a different animal. We have to learn to do that. We don’t have the luxury to be able to turn it on when we want it. It’s a good lesson.”
* When the Warriors unit came out for the second quarter, rookie big man Jeremy Tyler was part of the quintet. For the second consecutive game, Tyler was given minutes when they mattered.
“I’ve been practicing pretty well lately,” said Tyler, who played a season-high eight minutes in Wednesday’s victory over Portland, and they weren’t in garbage time. “I got a chance to talk to coach Jackson and he said keep working hard and your time will come. I was being patient. When the opportunity was there, I was ready. Hopefully there’s a domino effect and it can happen again.”
Tyler played five minutes of the second quarter, totaling two points and two rebounds. He then came in during the third quarter.
Total, he had six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.But the bigger gesture was when he played. Golden State got down by 10 and trailed 28-23 at the end of the third quarter. Jackson had enough confidence in Tyler to bring him in even though the Warriors still had catching up to do.
“There are things that he does very well on the basketball court – diving to the hoop, rebounding the basketball, looking to attack offensively,”Jackson said. “And it was a great opportunity for him. Give him credit … he came in and capitalized on an opportunity that presented itself. The thing for him now is to build on it.”
Jackson warned not to get too carried away, as Tyler is still the third of three options at center. ButTylercould see regular spot minutes if he continues his progress.
Spot minutes are certainly better than playing for the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League, which is where the Warriors sent rookie forward Chris Wright on Thursday.
Tyler– who played two years overseas (what would have been his senior year of high school and first year of college) before being drafted in the second round in June – said he’s been soaking up all he can from veterans. Since back-up center Kwame Brown went down with a torn chest muscle,Tylerhas gotten more action in practice.
Tyler said other than a few expected adjustments, things “have been positive.”
“I’m getting that whole pace of the game (down), getting an understanding that this is another level from where I came from,”Tylersaid. “Mentally and physically, I know I’m ready. But there are still little things. It takes time. I’ve got to learn.”
* Warriors rookie swingman Klay Thompson matched his career-high with 14 points. He played 19 minutes of the bench and made 6 of 8 from the field.
Thompson, not known for his defense, blocked three shots.