With both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder seemed on a quick and short route back to dominance. But not against everyone, getting blindsided and crushed by the Golden State Warriors in a 117-91 loss, unable to keep up with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Harrison Barnes was actually the one who led the Warriors with 23 points and there were plenty of minutes for bench players to spend some late and quality minutes on the floor, but it was the inability of the Thunder’s defense to slow down Curry from long range or in his drives to the paint which created and endless run of opportunities for scoring. The Warriors made 46.6% of their shots from the field, and once again made the difference with their defense.
Because Curry and Thompson were good, but not special or unique. The thing that stood out was how bad Westbrook and Durant were. They did miss open shots, but they also got very few open looks; very little time to find their comfort zones. They combined to make only 21.6% of their field goal attempts. Durant was held to 3-of-16 from the field, scoring 14 points, while Westrbook did finish with 22 points, but made only 5-of-21 attempts.
Steve Kerr has taken the Warriors past the stage of having to rely on Curry and Thompson to deliver their points. Yes, it’s better if the two of them are hot from the outside which opens up a lot of things for them. But there’s more to their scoring ability and offense than just their two guards. It’s not like that for the Thunder, and it has been that way from the moment Westbrook emerged as a scary number 2 option next to Durant, although he doesn’t see himself that way.
The Warriors have been the best in the league so far, losing only five times, because of their newly found balance; their more disciplined offense which combines the creativity of Curry into it instead of completely relying on it; and excellent defense, maybe the best in the NBA, even when Andrew Bogut isn’t playing. The Thunder have been very good defensively throughout this season even without their two stars. However, offensively, they rely only on them, which sometimes makes it easy, although stopping Durant and Westbrook to this degree is something that usually happens just once in a season.
And the Thunder? They’ll have to look elsewhere for their chance of moving above .500. There won’t be many other nights with both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook looking so bad. They should be better and deeper with Dion Waiters on the team. This game? These things happen, although they shouldn’t, even to the best of teams. The Thunder need to put up better performances against this caliber of rivals in order to prove they are to be respected in the playoffs this season.