In a game that the Oklahoma City Thunder desperately needed in order to further secure a playoff spot, Russell Westbrook did all that he could in order to help the cause.
Sadly for the Thunder as Oklahoma City lost 111-107. There was little efficiency from the other two stars, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony — who combined to shoot 9-of-35 and score 32 points. You add the minimal production from the bench — 14 points — and you find yourself seeing the Thunder drop another pivotal game.
“Those are shots we want,” Anthony said in the postgame. “We want those opportunities, they just haven’t been falling. We need to do a better job.”
Don’t ask Westbrook if there are things that still need to be tinkered or figured out however.
“We figured it out,” Westbrook said in the locker room afterwards. “We’re good. As long as we’re good in this locker room, it really don’t matter.”
Westbrook was sensation throughout but achieved MVP form in the third quarter, where he scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He finished with 44 points, six assists and 16 rebounds.
Oklahoma City needed every bit during the third quarter too.
The Thunder came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter until Durant got the ball rolling with eight straight points to close out the first. From there the Warriors ran their offense beautifully and stretched their lead to 10, a lead they carried into the third until Westbrook came alive.
The Golden State Warriors were already shorthanded coming into tonight with the injury to Steph Curry. They only went 10 deep and forced Steve Kerr to reach into the bench and use Damian Jones to counter the physicality of Steven Adams (seven points and 13 rebounds).
“We knew we were shorthanded coming into tonight,” Kerr said after the game. “But I thought we played well against a great team. It’s certainly tough going against guys like Russ and Adams even at full strength.”
The Thunder and Warriors traded buckets in the final quarter but some untimely misses from George and Anthony ultimately doomed any chance for Oklahoma City to secure a win. Durant, who was abysmal from beyond the arc (2-of-9), did most of his damage from the free throw line, where he sank all 14 shots. In the end, the Thunder could not get over the hump.
The loss moves to the sixth seed where they only hold a half-game lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves. For Oklahoma City, they must win two more games to reach the postseason.
Oklahoma City now takes their journey on the road to play the Houston Rockets on Saturday night on ABC. This will be the 10th of 11 straight games against teams .500 or better. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Three Keys to the Game
Force turnovers: D
In the two wins over the Warriors, the Thunder forced 22 and 25 turnovers respectively. Tonight they only forced 13. Against an injured Warriors team playing with 10 guys is more than disappointing.
Make your free throws: C
OKC sank 28 of their 37 free throws. Not bad considering the season, but not well when you lose a game decided by a few possessions. Adams and Corey Brewer combined to go 2-of-8 in a game the Thunder lost by four.
Westbrook alone keeps this from being an F. His 44 points gave the Thunder a chance, but George’s and Anthony’s lack of shooting continues to haunt Oklahoma City in tight ball games.
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