Kevin Durant pressed his forehead against Russell Westbrook’s. The two exchanged pleasantries and a game that was on the edge of falling back into the same format the NBA has seen for three years changed. Russell Westbrook smiled and the Thunder blew out the Golden State Warriors.

No, not blown out. The Oklahoma City Thunder dominated the Warriors.

“That’s my game,” Westbrook said. “I feel like that’s my gift. To be able to come out every single night to use my energy, my enthusiasm to be able to keep my team and our team going.”

The Warriors were as cold on the basketball court as the temperature in Oklahoma City. That’s a large part due to the Thunder’s suffocating defense. They switched with mechanical precision. So, when Golden State made a run in the third quarter, it was Westbrook he stepped up and said no.

Westbrook shook his head after knocking the ball out of Durant’s hands. Westbrook and Durant came together as if a cosmic shift of 16 months waiting to explode. Durant backing away after calling Westbrook a name reminded you of a kid who had to be told to hold him back as Westbrook’s scowl is that of one who actually had to be held back and him tell them he’s cool.

Durant’s next possession down the floor saw the former Thunder player dribble off his foot and out of bounds. Oklahoma City came down, Paul George would hit a shoulder shimmy three. Oklahoma City led by 23 just like that. They never looked back.

“I’m coming at your neck every single night,” Westbrook told ESPN during post-game interview. “and I’m gonna let him know that.”

It was at that moment the game was over. When Durant backed away from Westbrook’s confrontation, the game was over. Oklahoma City had the moxie to finish off the game.

“I think tonight shows who we can be, who we want to be and who we think we can be,” Carmelo Anthony said.

Anthony, who scored 16 in the first half was wide open on numerous of his makes in the first half, who you can credit Westbrook’s aggressiveness for helping on that. Westbrook starting being aggressive, going to the rim. Steph Curry started out trying to guard Westbrook but quickly switched onto Andre Roberson. With Westbrook going to the rim, the Thunder’s lead ballooned.

“I go out and compete at a high level,” Westbrook said. “I go out and play at a high level. I’ve been saying that since Day 1 and that’s what I do.”

Compete he sure did. The dust settled and Westbrook led all scores with 34 points on 15-of-27 shooting. He also dished out nine assists and pulling down four rebounds.

For the Thunder, it’s really only a single step to where they want to be. Beating the Warriors to take that step is no feat. However, it’s a great way to start.

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

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Chuck Chaney

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