Seven months ago, the Golden State Warriors heard Russell Westbrook say “I’m coming! I’m coming!” It might have not been that night. On Wednesday night, Westbrook brought some new friends and brought it. No longer saying “I’m coming!” He was here. Westbrook powered Oklahoma City to a 108-91 blow out of the Golden State Warriors.

“The effort, the intensity, our disposition in the second half was really good,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said.

Oklahoma City beat the Warriors for the first time since Jan. 2015. They had lost seven in a row before winning tonight.

The Thunder finally did what we’ve wanted them to as they played essentially a 48-minute game. It was intense and it was a playoff level game for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oklahoma City jumped on the Warriors and never let up. They led by 11 in the opening quarter, pushed it to 17 by halftime. It’s exactly what Oklahoma City needed to help exercise their demons.

“The possibilities were shown tonight,” Donovan said.

With the return of Kevin Durant, the atmosphere continued to be raucous but it wasn’t vile. The boos rained down on the former Thunder favorite. However, there were no cupcake costumes. The Thunder used their talent to punish Durant over and over.

“It seemed pretty civil compared to last year,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said.

Durant and Westbrook went head-to-head with Durant calling names. After that, the game took another turn. Oklahoma City turned their 17-point lead into a 26-point lead, with 54 seconds left in the third. The Thunder led 94-68.

“I play the same way every night, whether it’s against Kevin or, whoever we play Friday, Detroit and Reggie Jackson,” Westbrook said.

It’s symbolic. Going back to that Feb. 11 blowout loss to the Warriors. Despite how intense and entertaining the game was, the Warriors led by 26 at their precipice in that game. Less than a year later, the Thunder were on the other end of that footing. Up 26, crowd was flowing and the Thunder’s defense was at a Championship level.

“We had our best game tonight,” Raymond Felton said. “We made up our mind we’re not losing anymore.”

Westbrook finished with 34 points on shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, dishing out nine assists and finishing with four steals. He was everything we loved in him and more. He was mouthy, flashy and down right nasty. His euro-step in the third quarter was so nice, he did it twice.

“His entire leadership tonight was great,” Donovan said.  “Not only on the floor, he had a huge impact on our team as he was really driven throughout the entire game.”

The Thunder pushed their first double-digit lead out in the first quarter when Oklahoma City led 31-20. They’d have a 17-point lead at the break when Westbrook stole a pass, went in for the lay up and put it off the glass. Oklahoma City led 65-48 at the break.

“We sustained a high level of concentration tonight,” Donovan said.

Paul George hit his shoulder shimmy, finding a big three to push the Thunder lead multiple times. George and Carmelo Anthony combined with Westbrook to literally outscore the Warriors “Big Four” on their own74-58. Anthony had 16 in the first half alone. George finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds and Anthony had 22 points, including three three-pointers.

“The stories about the game we lost. They kicked our ass,” Durant said.

It’s the game you’d like to see from Westbrook. He summoned his Why Not? attitude and that was apparent from the opening tip. He went right Steph Curry and anyone else who decided they could guard Westbrook, or at least try. He hit his free throws and dished assists to his opponents. He stole the ball and it was the MVP in his own form, coming up the best when it mattered most.

 

For the Thunder, they’ll have to use short term memories. This win is great. Take the things in which led to the victory and turn them onto the Detroit Pistons. They’ll roll into the Peake at 7 p.m. on Friday night. It will be the second time Reggie Jackson has returned to Oklahoma City to play since his trade two seasons ago.

“Hopefully this starts a run for us,” Felton said. “We cannot go backwards.”

Keys to the Game

Rebound: A+

Oklahoma City dominated the rebounding all night long. In the first two minutes of the game, the Warriors scored a couple of buckets on second chance points. However, Jerami Grant checked in and shut that down. From there on out, Oklahoma City limited the Warriors to five offensive rebounds the final 46 minutes. Oklahoma City out rebounded the Warriors 50-39.

Share the ball: B

Russell Westbrook had nine assists and the rest of the Thunder only had seven assists. You’d like to see more assists from the Thunder, however, you give them “B” because of all of the breakout scores on steals. There were a lot of opportunities that didn’t call for assists.

Get to the line: A

Oklahoma City did just that tonight, took 26 attempts. They were in control all night. They were aggressive and that led to excess free throw attempts. If the Thunder can get to 26 or so attempts per game, the Thunder are going to go on some kind of run coming up. You have to have those easy points and the good guys did tonight.

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.