You can’t win without defense, and you definitely can’t win if you can’t stop Kevin Durant.
Durant lit up the Golden State Warriors for a career-high 54 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder won a shootout, 127-121 in Oklahoma City on Friday night. He quite literally put on a show, taking over the last few minutes of the game and making jumper after jumper. Durant was extremely efficient as well, shooting 19-of-28 and making five of nine 3-point attempts. He also added four rebounds and six assists in 44 minutes.
While the main storyline from this game will be Durant’s performance, the Warriors (25-16) cannot simply put the onus on Durant “being Durant.” They allowed the Thunder (30-10) to shoot an astounding 58 percent from the field, and gave up a season-high 71 points to Oklahoma City at halftime. The defense was nonexistent, as it was either Durant going off or a foul being committed by the Warriors.
The problem for the Warriors was not their offense. Stephen Curry had an excellent night with 37 points and 11 assists, and Klay Thompson had 26 points. Both Curry and Thompson made six 3-pointers to lead the Warriors.
Golden State hung tough at halftime, down just 71-65, but a poor third quarter and the Durant takeover late all but spelled their doom.
Tale of the Tape
- Field Goals: 52.4% (43-82)
- 3-Pointers: 59.3% (16-27)
- Rebounds: 33
- Assists: 22
- Turnovers: 17
- Field Goals: 58.0% (47-81)
- 3-Pointers: 40.9% (9-22)
- Rebounds: 41
- Assists: 23
- Turnovers: 17
Jordan Crawford made his debut in a Warriors uniform, playing 15 minutes and scoring eight points on three-of-four shooting. He showed his ability to create shots for himself, and should be a crucial part of a depleted bench that is in need of any kind of scoring.
The Bogut Issue
One way to beat the Warriors? Force Mark Jackson to sit Andrew Bogut for over half the game.
Bogut played just 22 minutes tonight and contributed minimally thanks to the Warriors being in the bonus virtually all night, and the Thunder opting to foul Bogut intentionally. Jackson has no choice but to sit his starting center, who is so pivotal to the Warriors’ defense and can affect the game in a big way.
Without him off the court, the Warriors are playing small ball with no true center, and that allows for teams like the Thunder to rack up 127 points, and for Durant to embarrass them on national television.
Tweet of the Night
Just a bit modest…
Kevin Durant with the understatement of the year after his 54 point game. pic.twitter.com/ZG5xgP8OiS
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 18, 2014
What’s on Tap
The Warriors are right back at it tomorrow night in New Orleans as they take on the Pelicans on the back end of a back-to-back.