In a thrilling game at Oracle Arena, the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors made big plays down the stretch and knocked off the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder late Wednesday night by a score of 104-99.
In a back-and-forth contest, the Thunder (33-10) led by five at halftime before the Warriors (26-15) managed to make things interesting with a strong start to the third quarter. Oklahoma City regained the lead heading into the fourth, but Curry turned on his magic down the stretch.
Despite an uncharacteristically bad game from the three-point line (3-of-14), Curry found other ways to score and led the Warriors with 31 points and seven assists. Curry also got a late steal and then iced the game with two free throws to give the Warriors a fifth win (OKC, MIA, three over LAC) against the NBA's elite.
David Lee added 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors, while Klay Thompson poured in 19 points. Carl Landry had 20 points off the bench for head coach Mark Jackson, who continues to see his defensive, hard-nosed personality exude down the stretch from his team.
Kevin Durant was his usual lethal self for the Thunder, scoring 33 points and dishing out nine assists in the losing effort. However, the Jekyll and Hyde act from Russell Westbrook was all Jekyll on Wednesday night, as the Thunder point guard had just 10 points, six turnovers and shot 3-of-16 from the floor.
Westbrook and Durant combined for 12 of the team's 19 turnovers, and the Thunder showed some signs of fatigue down the stretch as they play their fourth road game in a row.
It's still early, but it looks like the 2012-13 Warriors are for real.
Player of the Game: Golden State PG Stephen Curry
It's not often you'll see Curry (career 44.7 percent three-point shooter) miss 11 shots from the outside. However, in a true display of his growth since coming into the league four years ago, Curry found other ways to impact the game and managed to ice the game down the stretch.
Curry finished with 31 points, seven assists, four steals and just two turnovers on Wednesday night, as he went toe-to-toe with Durant for a battle of emerging NBA stars.
If you haven't seen Curry play or don't care because the Warriors have typically under-impressed, this is the time to make the change. The Warriors could have at least one All-Star this season, and Curry is most assuredly deserving of at least a mention in that category with his recent play.
Next Up for the Thunder
Oklahoma City will travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Friday. It will be an emotional game in Sac-town considering the events of the Seattle buyers threatening to relocate the team to the upper Northwest.
Throw in the fact that this is OKC's fifth-straight road game of a six-game trip, and these are the kinds of trap games that often doom greater teams. The Thunder have a chance to rise to the occasion on Friday night against DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans.
Next Up for the Warriors
The Warriors will begin a four-game road trip on Friday, when they travel to the great state of Illinois to take on the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls have won five of their last six games, and are still waiting for the return of Derrick Rose and now Luol Deng to the lineup. It's a dangerous Chicago squad and a good test for the Warriors to prove that they are—or aren't—ready to contend in the postseason.