Despite an awful shooting night from beyond the arc, it was his night. Despite Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the best team in the NBA, it was all about the Golden State Warriors taking down another Western favorite while Stephen Curry cemented his place among the NBA’s best players.
You usually shouldn’t get too many accolades when you have a 3-14 night from three, but when you win, all the wrongs don’t matter. It was only the sixth time this season anyone took at least 14 shots from beyond the arc (the most belong to Caron Butler with 15 earlier this season, hitting nine of them, and teammate Klay Thompson with 5-15), and Curry’s 21.4% is the worst of the bunch.
But when Curry didn’t try his three-point failure act, he was unstoppable. Russell Westbrook preferred letting the guys behind him, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins handle Curry. Busy dealing with a fantastic David Lee (22 points, 12 rebounds), none of the front-court members could help Westbrook contain Curry, who finished with 22 points and 8-13 when taking two-point shots.
Westbrook himself had one of those nights when he forgets all the progress he made this season and the point guard thing he needs to preform. Maybe it’s about trying to outplay the player guarding him, but it got uglier and uglier as the game moved on. Westbrook scored only 10 points on a 3-16 night from the field, missing all his 5 three point attempts. It just goes to show what a streaky shooting team the Thunder are, not relying on team basketball to dominate the NBA, but simply on making shots, not necessarily from set plays leading to those points. When Westbrook or Durant are struggling, there’s no bailing them out with smart basketball.
Durant did have a big day, once again, scoring 33 points and adding 9 assists, averaging 38.5 points on his last four games. No one is shooting better than him at the moment, but when the rest of the team isn’t doing too well and especially Russell Westbrook feels intent on destroying attack after attack with his selfishness, there’s no real hope of beating a good team like the Warriors.
The real achievement for the Warriors was being the first team to beat the Thunder this season despite entering the fourth quarter 3 points behind. OKC were 29-0 this year with a third quarter lead, but were held to only 20 points in the final quarter. The Warriors are the only team to beat the Thunder, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers this season. Their win over the Heat came on the road.
It wasn’t all about Steph Curry, scoring 31 points and averaging 26.3 points on his last three games; the Warriors do have more. We already mentioned David Lee, but there was also Klay Thompson on a good shooting night, scoring 19 points. Jarrett Jack was big once again off the bench with 9 points and 8 assists, while Carl Landry proved to be the real big addition, scoring 20 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook has a short memory. Good players just move on from bad nights, but the big issue is him not always learning from these implosions that cause his team to lose, and his head coach not really having an option to do something about it.