THE REPORTERS' NOTEBOOK
Box Score: OKC vs. GSW
By Nick Gallo and Paris Lawson | okcthunder.com
The Big Picture
Golden State jumped out to an early edge over the Thunder in the first quarter and built up a lead of as many as 21 points. The rocky start didn’t faze Oklahoma City from showing off its patented resilience that we’ve seen time and time again this season to make it a one-possession game in crunch time.
After a lopsided 38-20 first quarter, the Thunder won the next three frames and outscored the Warriors 100-90. The Thunder cut the deficit to one possession on three separate occasions, but the comeback efforts fell short in the final moments as the Warriors escaped Paycom Center with a 128-120 victory.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 31 points while Josh Giddey added 21 of his own to go along with six assists and eight rebounds. The Thunder bench continued its stretch of strong contributions with 39 points and seven-made 3-pointers.
Nick: The Warriors burst out to a 27-8 run midway through the first quarter, and while they rained down eight 3-pointers in the quarter, it was the back cuts and layups at the rim that helped stretch the Thunder’s defense and set up some of those catch-and-shoot looks. Before the game, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said that the Warriors make 3-pointers every night, but when they’re extra deadly is when they get the cutting and interior scoring into the game. Golden State racked up 14 points in the paint in the first quarter, but only managed 32 the rest of the game as the Thunder’s defense tightened.
Paris: Steph Curry drained a 3-pointer with about six seconds remaining in the opening frame. Without hesitation, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got the ball inbounds and hurried speedily in transition where he finished a layup at the buzzer. Speedy looks on the break have been the goal for the Thunder through the entire first quarter – after every made basket by the Warriors, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault urged his team to quickly get the ball inbounds and get the ball up the floor. Quick buckets seemed to benefit both teams. By the end of the frame, the Thunder racked up six fast break points compared to seven for the Warriors.
Nick: The first three minutes of the second quarter were ragged back and forth action, but featured no made field goals for either team. The Thunder needed to generate a different flow to the game than what took place in the first quarter, and by forcing three turnovers and three missed shots in a six-possession span, OKC was able to muck up the game, force the Warriors into taking a timeout and get re-settled heading into the middle stages of the second quarter.
Paris: Jaylin Williams wrangled the defensive rebound after a missed shot by Andrew Wiggins. When he finally secured the loose ball, Williams found himself out near the top of the key and ahead of the majority of his teammates. The rookie kept his head on a swivel, kept attacking full speed and through two defenders, brought the ball up and under the rim, finishing a reverse layup off the glass while falling to the ground. It was Williams’ first two points of the game which he followed it up with a 3-pointer just a few possessions later. The rookie finished the night with 12 points, eight rebounds off the bench shooting 5-of-9 from the field.
Paris: Kevon Looney elevated for what looked to be an easy two-handed slam. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had other plans. The guard met Looney at the top of his jump and swatted the ball out of bounds into the first row. The block brought Gilgeous-Alexander’s tally up to two for the night and 50 for the season. Both blocks came in the third frame in addition to the 14 points that he added to his overall tally. At just 6-foot-6, SGA leads all guards in the NBA in total blocks and continues to showcase his ability to utilize his length and activity on both ends of the floor.
Nick: Warriors guard Stephen Curry did what he does best, burying a top of the key three off the dribble from 28 feet away from the rim. There were still 5.5 seconds on the third quarter clock, however, and that left the Thunder plenty of time to respond. Gilgeous-Alexander took the inbounds pass and raced the length of the floor before bouncing a pass across the court perfectly into the shooting pocket of Mike Muscala, who immediately rose up and buried a three-pointer in response to beat the buzzer. The bucket cut Golden State’s lead back down to single digits, and gave the Thunder a jolt of energy heading into the fourth quarter.
Nick: The Fort Smith duo connected on an early fourth quarter possession, with Jaylin Williams dropping a bounce pass off to fellow Northside High School graduate and University of Arkansas Razorback Isaiah Joe on a cut through the middle of the floor. Joe caught the ball and rose up for a two-handed dunk in traffic, wowing the crowd inside Paycom Center. Joe typically does his work from behind the arc, where tonight he buried two 3s to help vault the Thunder’s tally to a league-best 300 made 3s off the bench this season, but his rim-rocking dunk was the play that raised the most eyebrows.
Paris: Josh Giddey picked up the loose ball after a turnover from Klay Thompson with 37 seconds left. As he looked up the floor, Jalen Williams had run ahead of the pack and finished the layup in transition to make it a five-point game. The rookie finished the night with 19 points on an efficient 8-of-14 shooting from the field which included 11 points in the fourth quarter alone. The rookie used his quickness and length to get out ahead of Golden State’s defense throughout the night and especially in the final frame.
“We got better as the game went on. I thought the stuff they got late was earned. It's the way you want them to beat you. Now we've got to be able to iron that out for 48 (minutes). The other good news is we play them three more times. So there's opportunities for progress points on our end.” –Coach Daigneault
“We're professionals, we’re there to do a job and get a win and didn't do it tonight. But after the first I thought the fight we showed, we played them pretty even for those last three quarters and gave ourselves every chance to win the game.” —Josh Giddey
After three games at home, the Thunder opens up February with a brief one-game road trip to face the Houston Rockets on Wednesday before hosting the Rockets again on Friday inside of Paycom Center.