Oklahoma City Handles Shootout Against Energetic Warriors

Saturday, January 28th 2012, 12:15 am
By: News 9

Grant Belcher, News9.com

OAKLAND, California – The Thunder are used to being the most energetic, young and athletic team on the court on any given night.

So it's no surprise that OKC came out a bit shell shocked when the Warriors hit the court looking to test that theory.

Golden State came out with plenty of energy and effort but in the end couldn't hang with the more experienced Thunder in a 120-109 OKC victory on Friday night.

The Warriors looked a bit more like the Thunder squad from a few years ago in their loss. They showed plenty of hustle and put up a good fight but lacked the experience to close it out.

Golden State forced Oklahoma City into 22 turnovers in the game, which resulted in lots of running and gunning for the Warriors.

But Oklahoma City held a huge advantage in one of the most important categories: rebounding. It outrebounded the Warriors by a massive 53-34 margin thanks in large part to Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.

Durant had 14 rebounds and Ibaka added 12 (eight offensive). Durant had 37 points to lead all scorers, and Ibaka had 20 points, both season highs for each of them.

Ibaka, ironically, did not have a block in the game, halting his league-leading streak of 31 games with at least one block that dated back to last season.

Russell Westbrook made it three Thunder players with double-doubles on the night as he sported a fantasy basketball owner's dream stat line: 28 points, a season-high 11 assists, six rebounds and seven steals.

And James Harden nearly made it four Thunder players at 20-plus, falling just short at the 19-point mark off the bench.

Despite the fact that the Warriors led for only about a minute the entire ballgame, they made it feel close and made the Thunder work hard for their margin the entire game.

Nate Robinson, whom OKC released from its roster in the offseason, put the pressure on with a 50-foot half-court buzzer beater to finish out the first quarter to keep the Thunder within striking distance. Robinson finished with a solid nine points and four assists.

The Warriors had the game back within three points several times in the fourth quarter, but a spectacular run from the Thunder finally broke the game open for good.

A dunk and a 3-pointer from Durant as well as an and-1 from Westbrook were part of a 14-3 run that created the necessary separation.

Dorell Wright led all Warriors in scoring with 23, and former Edmond Santa Fe High School star Ekpe Udoh put up three points and three blocks in 20 minutes of action.

Udoh also took an elbow from Kendrick Perkins in the third quarter that earned Perkins another technical foul, his seventh of the season.

Perkins is already more than halfway to the NBA season limit of 13 less than one-third of the way into the season.

Once players hit the limit, each odd-numbered technical (13th, 15th, 17th, etc.) earns them a one-game suspension.

Perkins leads the NBA in technicals, but for now, he helped the Thunder to 60 points in the paint against the smaller Warriors.

Guard Thabo Sefolosha left the game for the Thunder in the first half with right foot soreness and did not return.

With the win, the Thunder improve to an NBA-best 16-3 overall while the Warriors fell to 6-12.

OKC will have another rare two-day off stretch before facing the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday at 9:30 p.m.