Westbrook, Thunder storm past Warriors
OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook insisted that there was no extra juice to Wednesday night’s game between his Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant’s Golden State Warriors.
It was just another game, Westbrook said.
In Oklahoma City’s thorough 108-91 victory over the Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena, he certainly looked like he wanted to prove a point.
With 34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals, the reigning NBA MVP led his team to its first win over the Warriors since Durant left Oklahoma City for the Bay Area in 2016.
“I play the same way every night,” Westbrook said. “If it’s against Kevin, if it’s against ... Detroit, Reggie Jackson; Dennis Smith on Saturday. It don’t matter who it is. On the court, I don’t got no friends. The only friend I have is the basketball, that’s it — and obviously my teammates.
“I go out and compete, I got out and play at a high level, like I’ve been saying since Day One and that’s what I did.”
While Westbrook got plenty of help from two new pieces brought in during the offseason, he took control at times.
Early in the third quarter, on back-to-back possessions, Westbrook took advantage of Golden State miscues near midcourt and went right for the bucket, helping the Thunder stretch its lead to 19.
Oklahoma City scored 33 points off of Golden State’s 22 turnovers.
“This team is the best team in the league at creating them at getting out and scoring, and I think that opened up their half-court game,” Durant said. “They got into a rhythm, the crowd got into the game and we turned the ball over and let them get out to easy layups.
“We’ve got to be better in that area ... especially this team playing in this building and especially playing against us.”
In the offseason, the Thunder added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony through trades to try to compete with Golden State in the Western Conference. Both of those acquisitions came up big in the first meeting of the season.
George had 20 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, and Anthony added 22 points as the Thunder (8-9) snapped a two-game losing streak.
For the Warriors, it was only their second loss in 11 games.
“I thought they completely outplayed us, outcoached us. It was just their night, absolutely their night,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence and we didn’t bring any of that.”
Stephen Curry led the Warriors (13-5) with 24 points, while Durant added 21. Golden State’s starters sat during most of the fourth quarter after failing to cut into the Thunder’s lead much early in the quarter.
“I think we played with some decent energy, just didn’t play smart, and they had a good game,” Curry said. “I know we didn’t like our performance pretty much throughout the whole game — some things to kind of go back and think about next time we play them specifically but a long road trip, 2-2, it’s all right.”
Oklahoma City hadn’t had a problem building big leads, but they’d had an issue maintaining them. In the two previous games coming into Wednesday’s matchup, the Thunder had blown early leads of 23 and 19 points.
“We’re playing these halves — who are we and what are we trying to become? But I think the possibilities were showing tonight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “But we’ve still got a lot of room for improvement and a lot of growth and we can evolve and get better.”
It was Oklahoma City’s first win over the Warriors since Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals when the Thunder won to go up 3-1 on Golden State. The Warriors won three consecutive games to advance to the NBA Finals and then won all four games against the Thunder last season.
NOTES: Warriors F Kevin Durant returned to the lineup after missing a game with a sprained ankle over the weekend. ... About midway through the third quarter, Durant and Thunder PG Russell Westbrook were called for a double technical after the two butted heads under the Warriors’ basket. ... Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Draymond Green were given technicals during a short span in the third quarter.