It was payback time for Russell Westbrook on Friday night, as the Oklahoma City Thunder guard nailed a desperation three-pointer that won the game in the dying seconds, beating the Golden State Warriors by the score of 113-112 in overtime.
Down by two with the ball under 20 seconds remaining, the Thunder (11-3) went to Kevin Durant who missed a jumper, but the Warriors (9-8) knocked the rebound out of bounds. With five seconds to go, Serge Ibaka missed a shot for the tie, but the rebound was saved inbounds by Thabo Sefolosha, who blindly flipped the ball over his head. Westbrook grabbed it out of the air, and without hesitation, went behind the three-point line, turned, and won the game.
The Rest of the Story
The first half was tightly-contested, which was surprising from a Warriors standpoint considering that Klay Thompson and David Lee both struggled mightily. Thompson missed several open shots and was 1-of-10 with just two points, and Lee missed all three of his field goal attempts and had just four points at the break. Despite that, Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes both scored in double-digits and the Warriors trailed 54-51 at halftime.
The Warriors came out strong to begin the second half, turning a three point deficit into a nine-point advantage. Thompson rebounded after a horrid first half with 12 third quarter points, and the Warriors took a six point lead into the final quarter.
But that lead wouldn’t last very long. Durant made the Warriors’ reserves look like fools, and in a span of two minutes, the Thunder had gone on a 7-0 run to take an 83-82 lead. The Warriors, however, would hang tough. Curry, who finished with a team-high 32 points, made several ridiculous shots, and Barnes was on his game as well down the stretch.
In overtime, it seemed like the Warriors had the game won. A 6-0 spurt in the final minutes gave them a 112-110 lead, and they got several key stops down the stretch. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the final stop, and that’s all that matters.
Free Throws, Free Throws, Free Throws
The Warriors’ issue with free-throw shooting has suddenly became too large to ignore. Golden State made just 20 of their 29 free throws for 69 percent. Perhaps the biggest miss was Lee’s with 24 seconds remaining in regulation with the Warriors down by one. He made the second to tie the game, but failed to give their defense a chance to win the game in regulation. In a nail-biter like this, every point is important and even a few more made free throws could have flipped the score.
Without Andre Iguodala and with Andrew Bogut fouled out for much of overtime, the Warriors’ mental toughness was tested and despite the loss, they passed the test against a Thunder team that hasn’t lost a home game all season long. Mark Jackson will say that there are no such things as moral victories, but tonight, the Warriors didn’t lose the game. The Thunder won it.
Tale of the Tape
- Field Goals: 44.2% (42-95)
- 3-Pointers: 30.8% (8-26)
- Rebounds: 51
- Assists: 20
- Turnovers: 15
- Foul shooting: 60% (20-29)
- Field Goals: 39.1% (36-92)
- 3-Pointers: 33.3% (6-18)
- Rebounds: 42
- Assists: 16
- Turnovers: 12
- Foul shooting: 83.3% (35-42)
Curry: “For us to be short-handed and still find a way to be one rebound away … that kind of make it hurts even more.”
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) November 30, 2013
Tweet of the Night
@SedanoESPN An OKC -GSW playoff series could be a Pay Per View and I would pay for it
— Charles Milian (@CharlesMilian) November 30, 2013
What’s on Tap
The Warriors will travel to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Sunday. Jackson and former assistant (now Kings’ head coach) Michael Malone will reunite on the sidelines as the two NorCal teams do battle.