An undermanned Oklahoma City Thunder fell to 0-1 in the new season on Tuesday night in Oakland, as the Golden State Warriors took a 108-100 win on ring night at Oracle Arena. Steph Curry led the way for the defending champs with 32 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds. Paul George paced the Thunder with 27 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals in the losing effort.
With Russell Westbrook watching from the sideline, the Warriors jumped out to an early 31-23 after one quarter of action. Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 14-of-26 in the first half — while George sputtered to 1-of-8 shooting effort in the first two frames. All told, the Warriors were up 57-47 at the break — seemingly in command in front of a sellout crowd.
George awakened after halftime, starting 5-of-5 and sparking a 22-9 run that was punctuated with a Dennis Schroder long ball that put the Thunder up 67-66 at the 8:03-mark of the third. Using length and a swarming defense, OKC held the Warriors to 12-of-30 shooting in the quarter — much to the delight of a former MVP sitting on the bench. Although the Warriors were able to close strong and held an 83-79 advantage with 12 minutes to play, the game was very much on the table for Oklahoma City.
Though the teams found themselves deadlocked 87-87 with 9:21 remaining, the Warriors were able to build some cushion behind Curry, Durant, and Kevon Looney — yes, Kevon Looney. OKC would go on to trim Golden State’s lead to three with just under a minute and half to go, but the Warriors were able to hang on and escape the injury-depleted Thunder with the win intact.
The Thunder returns to action on Friday night in Los Angeles — taking on the Clippers at 9:30 PM CST on NBA TV and Fox Sports Oklahoma.
-11: Golden State outrebounded OKC 57-46.
-7: The Thunder recorded 21 assists compared to Golden State’s 28.
36.3: OKC struggled from the floor, shooting 36.3 percent. The Warriors shot 44.2 percent.
27: The Thunder surprisingly shot better than the Warriors from three-point range tonight, 27 percent to 26.9 percent.
64.9: One of the bigger downfalls of the night was OKC converting 24-of-37 free throw attempts — good for just 64.9 percent.
+4: OKC recorded 11 steals compared to Golden State’s 7.
-1: The Warriors recorded 7 blocks compared to the Thunder’s 6.
+6: OKC turned the basketball over 14 times compared to Golden State’s 20.
George: 27 pts (9/23 FG, 4/12 3P), 5 ast, 4 stl, -16
Adams: 17 pts (6/12 FG), 11 rebs, 4 ast, 2 stl, -6
Schroder: 21 pts (7/19 FG, 2/6 3P), 9 rebs, 6 ast, -7
Patterson: 7 pts (2/9 FG, 1/4 3P) 5 rebs, 1 stl, 1 blk, +3
Ferguson: 0 pts (0/2 3P), 4 rebs, 1 ast, +0
Grant: 7 pts (2/7 FG, 1/4 3P), 2 rebs, 2 ast, 3 blks, -11
Felton: 6 pts (1/5 FG, 0/3 3P), 3 rebs, 1 ast, -1
Abrines: 8 pts (3/8 FG, 2/6 3P), 2 rebs, -5
Noel: 3 pts (1/2 FG), 7 rebs, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, -2
Diallo: 4 pts (2/4 FG), 1 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, +5
Paul George highlights:
Dennis Schroder highlights:
Westbrook Not Yet Cleared for Takeoff: The news that many Thunder fans were expecting, but didn’t want to hear – Westbrook was unable to gain clearance from the Thunder medical staff in time for the season opener. Dennis Schroder started in Westbrook’s absence, along with Terrance Ferguson, Paul George, Patrick Patterson, and Steven Adams. Adams was able to give it a go tonight despite being a game-time decision. He had been experiencing lower back stiffness, per Billy Donovan.
Sluggish Start: The Thunder were unable to find their groove offensively to start the game, as they started the 1-of-9 from the field. Golden State was able to get out to an early lead, as the defending champs opened with a scorching 6-of-7 start. George was essentially nonexistent in the first half, as Golden State held him to 6 points on 1-of-8 from the field, 0/5 from three. The Thunder shot an abysmal 31.2 percent and 18.8 percent from deep in the first half. Despite OKC’s struggles from the floor, the Thunder only trailed by 10 at the break.
Third Quarter Explosion: Led by George’s 5-of-5 start from the field, OKC came out of halftime with a 22-9 run to take a 67-66 lead with 8:04 remaining in the third. In total, George scored 15 points in the quarter on 6-of-10 shooting. The Thunder as a whole shot 44 percent from the field in the quarter, cutting Golden State’s lead to four heading into the final frame.
Clarity at Power Forward?: Patterson expectedly got the start tonight but left a lot to be desired as OKC’s replacement for Carmelo Anthony. His shot selection was oddly reminiscent of Anthony’s, as he was clearly forcing the action in his 18 minutes of play. Patterson finished the night 1-of-4 from three, badly missing wide-open attempts. Due to his limitations elsewhere, he needs to hit his open threes in order to have a sustained role with this team. Jerami Grant got the bulk of the minutes tonight – 29 in total, and he played the entire fourth quarter. Grant’s energy was infectious on both ends of the floor. After checking into the game in the first quarter, his block at the rim on Draymond Green led to an easy transition layup for Alex Abrines. Grant recorded three blocks total tonight. I expect Patterson to continue to start but look for Billy D to continue with the quick hook on Pat-Pat if his shot isn’t falling.
Banged Up Kiwi: Steven Adams was sensational despite being questionable to play with lower back soreness. He didn’t look quite right physically — and the youthful Warriors bigs had big nights — but it’s incredible how impactful Adams is on each end of the floor. 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals for Big Kiwi.
Half the Splash: Steph Curry was his usual Thunder-killing self, as he lit up the Oracle Arena skies with 32 points (11/20 FG, 5/9 3P, 5/5 FT), 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. This is a sight all too familiar for Thunder fans. His ability to move without the ball and Golden State’s ability to screen open shots for him had the Thunder dizzy all night. Schroder got lost and left Curry wide open for a corner three that found nothing but bottom to start the game. Klay Thompson, however, struggled to find his groove on ring night. Thompson finished with 14 points (5/20 FG, 1/8 3P, 3/3 FT) as he continuously missed wide open threes. The Warriors generated open looks for Thompson throughout the night — they just weren’t falling.
Streaky Schroder: Sporting a new yellow and blue streak in his hair, Schroder played well in his Thunder debut. Despite his occasional Lost and Found defense on Curry, he played with pace and kept OKC in the game throughout their scoring droughts. Schroder finished with 21 points (7/19 FG, 2/6 3P, 5/6 FT), 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. The Thunder are rather limited offensively without Westbrook, so Schroder will need to continue to share the load with George until Westbrook returns. I would’ve liked to see some better chemistry out of the pick-and-roll with Adams, but that will come with time. Encouraged by his effort on the defensive end.
The Other Guys: The Warriors have five men in double-figures: Curry (32), Durant (27), Thompson (14), Damian Jones (12), Looney (10)
Final Thoughts: You have to be encouraged if you’re the Thunder after tonight. Without their MVP and All-NBA defender, the Thunder hung with the defending back-to-back champs in their building on ring night. I was especially encouraged with OKC’s ability to avoid the notorious Golden State third quarter explosion, as the Thunder actually gave the Warriors a taste of their own medicine in the third. Rookie Hamidou Diallo looked like a player that definitely belongs in Billy D’s rotation, as he was tasked with defending Thompson for his 8 minutes. Ferguson looked lost tonight, disappearing for a majority of his 26 minutes — and failed to score and missed both of his three-point attempts. Diallo may be looking at an increase in minutes as he passed the eye test with his confident play.