Paris Lawson

By Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter | mailbag@okcthunder.com

Game Recap: Thunder 120, Warriors 92

Setting the tone from the very beginning of the game, the Thunder seized control on both sides of the ball throughout four quarters. Quick pace and tempo served as a catalyst for a strong offensive performance for the Thunder in its first victory of the season.

Game Flow

In a game that was largely decided in the opening minutes of play, the Thunder took control of the contest from the very jump, literally. The Thunder set the tone early offensively that they were going to play with a quick pace and tempo. An early eight-point lead in the first quarter grew to 15 and from there, the Thunder never looked back even as Golden State switched up defenses throughout the game. Taking a lesson from its last game against the Wizards where the offense stalled in the face of a zone defense, the Thunder maintained aggressiveness on the offensive end by attacking the paint and moving the ball. The result – a great shooting night. The Thunder finished the game shooting 55.7% from the field and 46.9% from behind the arc.

“I thought we played with really good pace. In particular, Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], Chris [Paul] and Dennis [Schröder] did a great job of pushing the ball,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “We got into offense quick and early. I don’t think we held it. Even on some switches and even when they went zone, we kept the ball moving.”

It wasn’t just offense that was firing on all cylinders for the Thunder. Another strong defensive performance held the Warriors to 32.6% from the field and 15.2% (5-33) from the 3-point line. Even with strong offensive powers like D’Angelo Russell and Steph Curry, the Thunder locked in making their looks difficult and contested. Thunder guard, Dennis Schröder caught fire on both ends of the floor, stuffing the stat sheet with 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

“Dennis really advanced,” said Donovan. “Dennis played a really, really good game today. I thought he was really good the way he played all the way around on both ends of the floor.”

“I didn’t shoot very well the first two games, but I tried to stay aggressive, make the right decisions, and I think everyone else had a great game as well and that’s what matters,” said Schröder.

Decisive Moments

After the Thunder got out to a quick 15-6 lead in the first five minutes of play, the Warriors came out of the timeout in a zone in an attempt to slow down the steamrolling Thunder offense. In the first possession of the Warriors’ zone defense, Terrance Ferguson, who had 13 points and shot 3-4 from the 3-point line, caught the ball in the corner, swept it baseline and finished gracefully at the rim. This play set the tone for the Thunder for the rest of the game that regardless of what defense it faced, it wouldn’t become stagnant on offense.

“I thought tonight they switched defenses a lot, and our guys did a good job of maintaining a high level of aggressiveness,” said Donovan.

“The game flow and just finding an open spot,” said Terrance Ferguson about what led to his assertive play against the Warriors. “My teammates found me so it’s just the flow of the game.”

Play of the Game

Sizing up D’Angelo Russell at the top of the key, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gave a quick look at the rim to get Russell to stand up just enough to get a step on him. When Russell quickly caught up to cut him off, Gilgeous-Alexander countered with a spin to the middle of the floor only to be met by Golden State forward, Eric Paschall. Gilgeous-Alexander picks up the ball, jumping in the air to bring it over the head of Paschall and scoop it low under a lingering contesting arm for a reverse layup finish all before his feet hit the ground again.

Stat of the Night

With a 28-point margin of victory, the Thunder ties its largest ever for the Thunder against the Warriors. Thunder let out a little sigh of relief to see its offense finally clicking after two games of trying to find its offensive rhythm.

“I think we flowed pretty well into offense, and once we got into offense, we kept it moving,” said Donovan. “Whereas, in the previous game in Utah we didn’t get up the floor fast enough, get into the offense quick enough. Then against Washington, we did that, but we didn’t keep it moving. Today, we kept it moving, which was important.

Quotes of the Night

Dennis Schroder “Everybody did it as a team on the defensive end and offensive end.
Moving the ball, play with pace, everybody touched it and everybody was shooting it with confidence.” -guard Dennis Schröder

“I think we’ve made some strides. We’ve gotten better. I know sometimes, in what we do we always look at the result and say did you win or lose, but it’s also about how you’re playing, and I feel like we made some strides from Utah to Washington, and from Washington to Golden State.” -head coach Billy Donovan

Looking Ahead

The Thunder will look to continue the progress it has made so far this season on the road for the second game of its first back-to-back of the season against the Rockets on Monday.


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