The Oklahoma City Thunder are not a bad team. Saturday night in prime time Russell Westbrook showed why he should be in the thick of the MVP race, scoring 47 points with 11 rebounds and eight assists.
But the Thunder’s offense and depth of talent are simply not good enough to compete with the Golden State Warriors. You know, the team Kevin Durant left the Thunder to play for.
Thunder fans got their cathartic chance to lustily boo Durant, and those same fans had moments to cheer, but a focused Warriors team was just far too much for the hometown heroes on the court and cruised to a 130-114 win.
As for all those boos, it didn’t bother Durant who had 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting, plus pulled down nine rebounds on the night.
“I actually thought it would be a little louder,” Durant said of the boos in a televised postgame interview. “It was fun, I was on the other side of it but to become one of these guys where they boo you is kind of fun. I got to embrace it, that’s all I can do, and keep playing my game, keep preparing the way I prepare, and enjoy every game.”
Emotions were high. Durant jawed with Westbrook at one point, and went face-to-face with Andre Roberson at another. Draymond Green had words with a fan behind the Thunder bench. But none of that mattered on the court.
What was clear from early on is that as great as Westbrook played, you could see why Durant left for a better team.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry each had 26 points, and while the Thunder defense tried to focus on those three JaVale McGee cut to the rim and got 16 points. McGee got exposed on defense plenty in this game, but it was part of the theme where that didn’t matter because of how good he made their offense. As a team, the Warriors shot 52.9 percent for the game.
The big difference, the Warriors shot 41.9 percent from three and hit 13 from deep, the Thunder hit just six and shot 25 percent.
The Thunder scored 50 points on 53 first half possessions, but the Warriors already had 73 points. OKC could never begin to close that gap.
Westbrook had 47 and played smart, driving hard at the Warriors big men and then either drawing them into fouls or dishing to open men. It was a tour de force.
The Thunder fans made the arena feel like it was a playoff game. At least to start. But it just didn’t matter as the Warriors team as a whole embraced the challenge. And when the Warriors are shooting like that, is there any team that can beat them?