With Lu Dort returning from a patellar injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder entered the Chase Center having a victory on their mind. After a long pursuit, the Thunder fell from the prize, losing to the Warriors 118-97. Oklahoma City collected the fourth-best lottery odds with the win as the lone 21-46 team in the league — now waiting for the 21-win Cavaliers and Magic for their fate. Golden State rose above the horizon sitting above the .500 mark with a 34-33 record. This win may be pivotal for the Warriors as the victory pushed themselves into the eighth-seed in the West — pushing themselves out of the single-elimination play-in spots.
With Kelly Oubre out, Golden State surrounded Steph Curry alongside forward Andrew Wiggins to keep the iron hot to start the game, combining for the team’s first 9 points in a 9-4 opener. Oklahoma City pushed their way back in with two consecutive layups to sit a single mark outside. Upon the Thunder’s emergence, Golden State’s Curry-Wiggins combo charged right back scoring 7-of-13 points in what would become a 13-4 patch to snag a double-digit lead with four to go. Upon sides swapping in their second units, the Warriors continued to pillage a double-digit advantage until a closing 5-0 run held them out 31-24 through twelve. Golden State’s duo of Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins added 9 points apiece to the roster helping to establish a 5-of-11 (45.5%) clip from three while being primary recipients on 11 assists — the Warriors hit 12 free throws in the quarter. Oklahoma City scored 18 of their points in the paint, but with a 1-of-9 performance from distance (11.1%), they couldn’t withstand Golden State’s versatility.
Oklahoma City relinquished their single-digit hole in the first two-and-a-half minutes of play — and then they found themselves back at square one. The Thunder started the frame a mere 3-of-9 though, despite that, one man held strong — Ty Jerome. Jerome showed zero hesitancy as the Warriors took to running with this game. After an opening Gabriel Deck layup hook shot, the sophomore tallied 12 straight points through a pair of driving layups, a soft-touched left-wing three, a nothing-but-net right-wing pullup, and two free throws to orchestrate a 12-8 run in nearing this game to six. Jerome found himself pressured on the very next play, finding Tony Bradley for a face-up 12-footer that fell in — four-point game. Mark Daigneault pulled Jerome out for Theo Maledon for the final four minutes of the run, and with that, Golden State waltzed back in for a 9-2 run. Jerome’s removal was short-lived as he resurfaced after a minute following Lu Dort’s fourth personal foul — but by that time the Warriors found their mojo, closing the half up 61-49.
The Thunder caught a major break by the midway point as they were down a stifling 17 points with just under two to go — the reason? Golden State could not miss. The Warriors outperformed the Thunder 52-to-40 from the floor, but their 8-of-21 (38.1%) clip from outside set the half’s parameters. Steph Curry led Golden State with 17 points (5-of-11 FG), but with forwards Andrew Wiggins and Kent Bazemore ending with 13 and 11 points respectively. The most staggering differential from halftime came in the assist column as the Warriors posted 19-of-22 (86.3%) makes off assists while the Thunder only recorded 8-of-18 (44.4%) makes assisted. Oklahoma City’s root cause of their inefficient passing-platter began from the three sinking just 4-of-18 (22.2%) tries, but it also rested in their major point-guard play. Ty Jerome and Theo Maledon provided a spark plug to their respective units ending the half 16 and 12 points respectively accounting for over half of the team’s made field goals (10-of-18.)
Oklahoma City started the second half rocky after two straight Isaiah Roby charges and no points through two, but they found their way back. Started by a Bazley three and a leaning Maledon and-1, the Thunder managed to hoist a 13-4 run using a pair of triples to help pull this game down to six. Steph Curry went into full-form in retaliation, teeing off a floater and two-step back threes en route to a 12-4 run with 11-of-12 points coming from Curry. Oklahoma City wedged themselves to 10 with a minute remaining but as Steph Curry set Kent Bazemore wide open off a drive-and-dish the Warriors garnered a four-point play as Bazemore’s make coupled with a Josh Hall “away-from-play” foul sent Curry up for one. After a finishing Curry lay-in, the Warriors led 88-72 heading into the fourth. Stephen Curry matched his halftime total, collecting 17 points in the frame on 6-of-10 shooting, nearly outscoring the entire Thunder roster (23 points.)
Both Mark Daigneault and Steve Kerr enlisted their bench units to begin the final quarter. Ty Jerome helped boost his game stats in his extended run but with sides trading off hits, Oklahoma City couldn’t sound a serious streak. Kerr tossed Steph Curry into the mix with five minutes to go, a decision that netted the Warriors two straight Juan Toscano-Anderson threes in what became an 8-0 run to propel a 25-point lead. Josh Hall racked together the Thunder’s final six points, but with the Warriors never easing off the gas, the game was over.
“I thought some of our gameplan stuff was really good. I thought they went deep into some possessions and made some plays at the end of the clock that you got to tip your hat to. Obviously, Curry got loose a couple times. I thought the thing that really hurt us was transition.” Mark Daigneault said. “Offensively, I thought we had really good poise tonight.”
Although Golden State coasted to a 15-to-7 advantage in transition, their real bridge was built from downtown. The Warriors drained 19-of-47 (40.4%) triples Thursday while Oklahoma City went for a paltry 23.1-percent sinking 9-of-39 attempts. Golden State’s open looks came a dime-a-dozen as they tallied 36 assists throughout the night while Oklahoma City mocked a solid performance with 21-of-36 makes (58.3%) coming assisted.
Steph Curry made his case for MVP finishing the game with a game-high 34 points and 7 assists. Curry was lights out going 11-of-21 (6-of-13 3pt FG) in his 31 minutes heavily impacted by his major third quarter. Mychal Mulder was a nice surprise off the bench going 9-of-15 for 25 points absorbing Klay Thompson’s “Splash Brother” role canning 7-of-13 threes. Golden State added three more double-digit scorers with Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Kent Bazemore finishing with 18, 14, and 13 points respectively, and with other contributors in Draymond Green (5 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) — the whole team was on the same page.
Oklahoma City’s fight throughout the contest was admirable as it took the final 15 minutes to draw any fatal blows but the comeback was simply not there. Ty Jerome was a one-man show for the Thunder using his 12-point streak to stack onto a finishing product of 23 points (8-of-14 FG) and 3 assists. Jerome’s was a microwave off the second unit, being used as Mark Daigneault to cut off the team’s cold spouts from all levels (3-of-6 3pt FG.)
Darius Bazley showed a great deal of emotion in his 22-point, 3-rebound piecing. Bazley and Daigneault exchanged thoughts in a late-game timeout as Daigneault was livid in the sophomore’s effort to which an invigorated Bazley clapped to himself in a sense of motivation. Bazley’s points came in spurts as his 7-of-19 clip had various up-and-downs. Baze turned up from outside sinking 4 triples at the expense of 13 overall tries.
Theo Maledon recorded the third-and-final double-digit effort collecting 15 points (5-of-12 FG) and a team-high 8 assists. Maledon had a 1-of-6 lapse from downtown but in working into the interior he found himself three easy runners coming just inside the free-throw line.
Lu Dort entered Thursday dealing with a small patellar injury, managing to fight through the pain for 21 minutes. Dort seemed off from the get-go showing little desire to absorb contact at the rim instead, opting for perimeter shots. Lu ended the game with 7 points on 3-of-13 shooting going 1-of-6 from deep.
“He battled through the pain to play tonight, which I credit him for,” Mark Daigneault said on Dort postgame.
The Oklahoma City Thunder (21-46) will stay in the Bay area until Saturday in which they will complete their baseball set against the Golden State Warriors (34-33.)