The Warriors weren’t going to beat the powerhouse Thunder anyway. The real question was in what fashion they lose.
In the grand scheme of things, Sunday’s 119-109 loss to Oklahoma City was one they could swallow. Golden State shot the higher percentage (52.4) and hung with the Thunder on the boards (40-35). The Warriors kept their turnovers down and their bench outscored Oklahoma City’s.
So how did they trail by as much as 22 and walk away with a loss. To put it generally,Oklahoma City is superior.
MARK JACKSON: “We played against a very good basketball team that went to the Finals last year. They have a couple of very special players. … The thing that I pointed out to our guys is that this is a process and they went through the same kind of experience and learned from it. It is important for us to do the same thing and continue to get better.”
To put it specifically, the Warriors offense couldn’t keep up with Oklahoma City’s attack and their offense couldn’t stop it.
Point guard Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points and six assists. Lee finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Forward Carl Landry’s 14 points led a Warriors’ bench that 47 points (to the Thunder’s 40).
But much of the Warriors’ offense success came in the second half, after they got down big. And they got down big because they were helpless against the Thunder’s stars.
Point guard Russell Westbrook finished with 30 points and six assists. Forward Kevin Durant notched his first-career triple-double: 25 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Guard Kevin Martin had 23 points off the bench.
More on Sunday’s defeat …
WRITER’S RANT: David Lee, not blessed with elite athleticism, used to have a knack for finishing. He was crafty. Can use both hands. Had enough hops to dunk when necessary. It worked to the tune of 55 to 60 percent shooting for his first six years in New York. This season, Lee has seemed to lose all his craftiness.
Can somebody tell this dude to use a pump fake?
So far, he’s had his shot blocked 22 times this far, that’s 2.2 per game. And that doesn’t count the wild shots he winds up taking to avoid getting pinned to the glass. It can be painful to watch. He’s got to cut out them premeditated moves and predictable angles. He’s got to stop trying to get it up quick to offset his lack of hops and instead take his time. And if he’s going to complain about falls, he’s got to actually draw them. Stop shying away from contact and then want a foul.
He should be a methodical, pump-faking, foul-inducing machine. Basically, what Carl Landry is. He has the skills — can finish with either hand, has nice touch, good foot work — to be a better finisher. He has got to get it together or they need to abandon the pick-and-roll with him.
MVP: Jarrett Jack
He pioneered the Warriors’ comeback, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. He also had 5 assists and 3 rebounds in 22 minutes. He also steadied the course in the first half after a jittery start by Stephen Curry.
MDP: Klay Thompson
This is his third straight game being the most disappointing. He finished with 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting with four rebounds. He was so ineffective, coach Mark Jackson sat him out the entire fourth quarter.
Thompson was battling the flu, but he said before the game he was fine after getting a day of rest.
KEY MOMENT: After a three-point play by Russell Westbrook, the Warriors trailed 20-13. Then Mark Jackson put in four reserves: Draymond Green, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. The Warriors’ demeanor immediately changed.Jefferson hit a pull-up to start a 12-6 run to close the quarter. Green scored three straight times during this stretch, preventing the Thunder from pulling away early.
YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “They did what they do, and that’s win at home. I was proud of our team making that run in the fourth quarter. I thought it showed a lot of heart out of our squad.” — David Lee
COACH’S CORNER: Mark Jackson, wisely, milked Kevin Martin’s defense consistently. It seemed whoever Martin was defending, the play was designed for that guy. It was one of the Warriors few advantages and they took full advantage.
TELLING STAT: The Thunder knocked down 13 of 20 from 3-point range. Martin made 5. Durant made 3. Westbrook made both of his attempts. In every other category, the Warriors were right there with the Thunder. The difference was the three ball.
CURRY: “If you stick to the game plan — making them swing it to the weak side — and they’re knocking down 3s, they’re tough to beat.”
SERIOUSLY?: At about the eight-minute mark of the third quarter, Kendrick Perkins was at the top of the key defending Stephen Curry. He clapped his hands, hyping himself up, after Curry couldn’t get by and had to reset. Curry wound up missing a 21-footer over him. The next time down, Perkins was on Curry again. Curry drove past Curry but lost the ball. After a Westbrook jumper, Perkins picked up Curry fullcout.
This time, Curry worked his way past Perkins and nailed a baseline jumper.
David Lee said it started as a mistake and it worked, so OKC got happy and kept doing it. Mark Jackson said he would love a steady diet of it.
CURRY: “It was weird. A lot of teams shadow, but they don’t do that. I settled on a jumper the first time. The second time I tried to get to the basket, but Thabo reached in and got a piece of the ball. If they want to throw that gimmick out there next time, I’ll be fine with it.”
KEY MOMENT II: A 3-pointer by Curry cut the Thunder’s lead to 105-98. Serge Ibaka followed with a jumper. Curry missed a 3-pointer and Martin responded with a 3-pointer. Just like that, the lead was 110-98. Two minutes later, with the Warriors down 13,Jackson pulled the plug and put the end of the bench in the game.
BEFORE YOU GO: One of the reason’s struggled was because Oklahoma City kept the Warriors off the offensive glass. Golden State had 8 offensive rebounds, which led to 7 second-chance points. One of the league’s better rebounding teams, the Warriors rely on the offensive glass. Especially the likes of Carl Landry (who had 1). That was a facet of the Warriors offense that was all but shut down by the Thunder.