NBA

Kevin Durant Has the Last Word With the Thunder–Again

Kevin Durant Has the Last Word With the Thunder–Again

Yet again, Kevin Durant had the last word. At this rate, it seems like he always might.

The Thunder were blown out 121-100 by the Warriors in Kevin Durant’s best game of the season. Russell Westbrook’s requisite triple-double wasn’t near enough to overcome the Warriors. Steven Adams, missing his second straight game due to a concussion, watched from Oklahoma City as his team was pummeled on the interior.

Even as late as the start of the third quarter, it appeared that the Thunder could run with the Warriors. But Golden State reminded OKC quickly that the Warriors were playing down to their competition in the first half–not the other way around. At this point, it’s safe to say that a full-strength Warriors squad would beat the Thunder (whether Steven Adams is available or not) nine out of ten times. The talent gap is simply too much to surpass, especially on the road.

A game that was tied at 56 apiece at the half fell apart at an alarming rate for the Thunder: they were outscored 65 to 44 in the second half. A big reason for the Warriors’ substandard first half were their 13 turnovers. By stark contrast, the Warriors turned the ball over just five times in the second half.

Kevin Durant played a hyper-efficient game, pouring in 40 points on just 16 shots. That kind of efficiency is mind-numbing–he had an effective field goal percentage of 97%. Durant also added 12 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks on the night, quickly silencing the Thunder any time they attempted a run.

Ever a polarizing player, Westbrook had a typically divisive game–fans of Russ could point to his 21st triple-double (27 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists), while critics will cite his 8-of-23 shooting on the night (including just 1-of-6 from deep) and 10 turnovers as the pivotal reason why the Thunder lost the game.

As always with Westbrook, a bit of both sides is vital to understanding his relation to the outcome of the game.

And, as always with Westbrook, it was an interesting night. The mercurial player had appropriately mercurial highlights and lowlights.

First and most notably for Westbrook was his altercation with Zaza Pachulia:

Pachulia received a flagrant foul on the play, and Westbrook vowed his revenge against after the game, saying “I’m gonna get his ass back…I don’t play this game.”

Then, Westbrook forgot that he had to dribble:

The travel in the NBA has become something of a legend. It’s like holding in football–it could be called on every play if referees were to go by the letter of the law. This isn’t one of those, though: Westbrook’s travel ranks among the most egregious in NBA history.

Now that the lowlights are out of the way, a little eye bleach is in order. Westbrook absolutely destroyed Durant on this one-handed slam:

Westbrook and Durant stole the show for obvious reasons (and they certainly had the greatest individual impacts on the game–for better or worse) but their teammates also played large. Steph Curry was the game’s third leading scorer with 24 points, also adding eight assists and four rebounds on the night. Enes Kanter played splendidly (at least offensively), scoring 22 and adding nine boards. Victor Oladipo was arguably the Thunder’s most consistent player in the game, scoring 20 points and adding three rebounds and four steals.

The Thunder will look for revenge on February 11th, as KD returns to Oklahoma City for the first time since his defection to the bay.

OKC falls to 25-19, while the Warriors improve to 36-6. Next up for Oklahoma City: they travel to Utah to take on the Jazz on Monday night. Tip-off is at 8 P.M. CST.

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