Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors Game Recap – March 20, 2017

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@okcthunder.com

The 3-point line was no friend to the Thunder on either side of the ball on Monday night, and in this modern NBA, that’s often a recipe for a tough loss.

That’s exactly what the Thunder experienced, falling 111-95 to the Golden State Warriors to snap a five-game winning streak that had eclipsed two games at home, two on the road and then another to start this three-game home stand.

It started fine for the Thunder, and it was a back-and-forth affair through the first quarter and early into the second, when Semaj Christon knocked down a 3-pointer to tie it at 25. From that point on in the second, the Thunder was behind the eight ball from a foul perspective, as Golden State was in the bonus at the 8:00 mark. That freed the Warriors up to make a run, and they obliged, outscoring the Thunder 17-4 in the early stages of the period and ultimately outscoring the Thunder 34-17 overall in the second frame.

“(Foul trouble) definitely has an impact,” point guard Russell Westbrook said. “It takes a little bit of physicality out of the game. We have to play without fouling and be able to play smart.”

The half was capped by a wild play off a jump ball and a slight scuffle with 5.3 seconds remaining. The ball squirted away towards the Thunder bench and Golden State’s Klay Thompson grabbed the ball first, then heaved it down court to Stephen Curry for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

That was one of seven Curry threes on the night, with Thompson adding another seven. Many of those threes came throughout the night off of second chances, with long rebounds being slapped out to behind the arc, into the waiting hands of the Warriors’ sharpshooters.

“It’s real tough to defend those, especially if you’re trying to crash the glass to help rebound, then you end up not getting a 50-50 ball, it’s hard to locate your man,” guard Victor Oladipo said. “It’s part of the game. We have to learn from it.”

Just as the Thunder had a chance early in the second quarter, it also made a run to start the third period, putting a 22-point deficit to 12 with a 13-3 run fueled by eight Westbrook points. After the Warriors called a timeout, the Thunder made a steal, but Taj Gibson’s fast break layup came up just short as he was fouled. The veteran forward missed both free throws, a trend on the night as the Thunder went just 17-of-31 from the stripe.

What could have been a single-digit game quickly turned into a 23-point Warriors edge. The missed opportunity on that play was costly from a momentum standpoint, as the Thunder never got closer than 14 the rest of the way, with Golden State leading by 20-plus for most of the second half.

“It just didn’t bounce the (right) way,” Gibson said, really of the ball in general for the Thunder all night. “You can chase it down and get a finger on it a couple times and some nights it won’t get to your hand the right way.”

Enes finishes with 15 points, 10 rebounds. Bud Light Photo of the Game

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In a number of aspects of the game tonight, that was the reality for Head Coach Billy Donovan’s group. In a rare instance, the Thunder was out-rebounded by six. The Thunder was also outscored 16-7 in fast break points and despite turning it over just 11 times, those giveaways led directly to 19 Warriors points, most coming on transition threes, where the Warriors shot a blistering 15-of-33 (45.5 percent).

The Thunder will have a chance to bounce back on Wednesday, with a home clash with the Philadelphia 76ers before taking off for three straight on the road.

Watch: Postgame Interviews

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By the Numbers

7 – Assists for Russell Westbrook to go with 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes of play

42.5 – Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night, compared to a 48.2 percent mark for the Warriors

58-40 – The Thunder’s edge in points in the paint, where it shot 29-of-51

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The Last Word

“It was a combination of a lot of things. It was one of those nights. We had some open shots that didn’t fall. They made shots as well. We had a few mishaps defensively, but we’ll be alright.” – point guard Russell Westbrook

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