Warriors World: Thunder Outmatched Down Stretch As Golden State Sweeps Season Series

Friday, March 4th 2016, 1:41 am
By: Brett Coppenbarger

In an ending that felt equally as gut-wrenching as Wednesday night’s loss to the Clippers, the Thunder yet again led in the fourth quarter but squandered away their chance at victory to fall 121-106 to the Warriors inside of Oracle Arena.

Golden State’s win ties an NBA record for most consecutive home wins with 44, while OKC has now lost six of their last eight games and appear to be in complete disarray.

Kevin Durant had an impressive stat line of 32 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in defeat, but the 6-foot-11 sharpshooter had as many turnovers (nine) as the entire Warriors team combined. 

"I'm frustrated because we lost, but I played as hard as I could tonight and I'm going to make mistakes," Durant said confidently after the loss. "I'm not trying to shy away from them."

Tonight's spectacular but sloppy performance comes just one day after Durant accumulated six turnovers in a stunning come-from-behind loss to the Clippers. 

"I did it, I made turnovers, I played to the crowd when I shouldn't have, I tried to make passes I shouldn't have made, but at the end of the day I tried to play the right way and I'm not going to play my best game tonight. I shouldn't have had that many turnovers, last night I shouldn't have turn the ball over, it's something I've got to correct," Durant said.

Just like in previous losses, the Thunder played great basketball throughout three quarters, but completely fell apart when it really mattered most.

The Thunder were hitting their stride in the third quarter after Serge Ibaka drained a corner 3-pointer to put the Thunder up 80-71, but things drastically fell apart for OKC from that point on. Golden State closed out the quarter on an 11-to-3 run to get within one point entering the final frame, and then the NBA’s best team opted to turn on the burners down the stretch to outscore the Thunder 50-to-26 after the long forgotten Ibaka bucket. 

With Steph Curry on the bench, Golden State reeled off a 7-to-0 run to start the fourth quarter and got up six points at 89-83, but the Thunder didn't completely roll over at that point.

Led by Durant, Ibaka and Russell Westbrook, OKC put together a small run to get within two points after a Westbrook and-1 layup with 6:01 left, but that small scoring burst wasn’t nearly enough.

Golden State was locked and loaded with a 10-to-0 run to get up 12 points, but Curry hammered the nail on the coffin with 2:15 left in the game. The magician-like point guard flashed his signature crossover which freed himself up to launch an arcing 3-pointer that looked good the second it left his hands.

Curry, who was a game-time call due to an ankle injury, finished with 33 points in the win and showed a national audience why he's currently the best player in the game. Typically known as a shooter, Curry proved he had more than one trick up his sleeve with multiple jaw-dropping finishes at the rim while shooting 6-for-8 from the painted area. 

Klay Thompson totaled 21 points of his own and the multi-talented Draymond Green also had an impact with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

One of the key problems in the OKC loss was the play of Russell Westbrook. The normally efficient point guard was anything but on Thursday night, as he shot 8-for-24 from the field while only making one of his eight 3-pointers. Early on it was evident he wasn’t his normal self, but some of that discombobulation can be credited to the current Thunder road trip and the daunting task of slowing down both Chris Paul and Steph Curry on back-to-back nights.

Ibaka added 20 points and six rebounds for the Thunder, while Kyle Singler earned some valuable minutes in the first half and made the most of them with nine points on 4-for-6 shooting.

Despite the recent tough times, Durant seemed surprisingly upbeat when talking with reporters after the game. 

"This is an exciting time for me. I'm happy that we're going through this because like I said it's easy to be... we don't want to be frontrunners," Durant said. "That's not who we are. That's not who I am. And I'm not going to let the team be that way." 

Oklahoma City now drops to 42-20 and is tied with the Clippers in the loss column. If you don't count last year's injury-riddled season, the Thunder now have their worst record through 62 games with a healthy core since the 2010-11 season, when the Thunder were just young kids and still flying under the radar.

"When you're losing that's when you really got to show your character and show who you are. We're going to keep our heads up, all our guys are going to stay positive and keep working and learn from it," Durant said. 

The Thunder will finish off their grueling four-game road trip on Sunday when they take on the Bucks in Milwaukee at 2:30 p.m.