The Thunder dominated the Warriors, 127-115, on Friday night in Oklahoma City. Here are five observations from the big win:
1. Kevin Durant's ceiling is higher than anyone else's ceiling
KD dropped 36 points on 14-of-18 shooting and did it with ease. It's hard to imagine a better performance and it came right when OKC needed it most. If the Thunder wants to permanently turn this season around, it starts with Durant.
2. Russell Westbrook's ferocity is unmatched
If the season ended tomorrow, Stephen Curry would probably be the league's MVP. He's the best player on the NBA's top team, but on Friday night, Russell Westbrook destroyed him. Westbrook used his athleticism and energy to fuel the Thunder's best performance of the season. Russ dropped 17 points, 17 assists, 15 rebounds and four steals. When he plays like that, the Thunder is a different animal.
3. Reggie Jackson is expendable
Dion Waiters continues to impress off of the Thunder bench. Waiters scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting in 37 minutes. Waiters' swagger and aggressiveness make him a sparkplug that the Thunder desperately needs. Because of his play, former sixth man Reggie Jackson has seen his opportunities decline. Jackson played just 18 minutes on Friday and shot 3-of-11 from the floor. Many of Jackson's shots were fadeaway jumpers and his eagerness to attack the basket has diminished. With Waiters' ability to both score and distribute, Jackson's services are no longer required.
4. When the Thunder plays angry, they're still elite
Friday's win had a different feel to it. The Thunder played 48 minutes like their lives depended on the outcome, and the result was beautiful. This is the fight that Oklahoma City has displayed in its deep playoff runs of recent seasons. It is also the fight that must become consistent if they want to make another.
5. Serge Ibaka needs the ball
It's amazing what can happen when you get the ball inside. Serge Ibaka was all over the place on Friday and his line reflected that. Ibaka matched his career high with 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but it was his shot total that was most encouraging. Ibaka shot 12-of-18, just one attempt shy of his season high. In fact, Oklahoma City is now 3-0 when Ibaka shoots at least 18 times. Getting the ball into his hands around the rim is a formula for success.