The Warriors survived a late scare Monday night to post a 128-120 victory over the Thunder at Paycom Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Holding a comfortable double-digit lead through the first half and most of the third quarter, the Warriors had to dig in after the Thunder pulled within two in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Curry led the way, pouring in a game-high 38 points. Klay Thompson put in 28 points, while Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole each added 15.
The Warriors shot 51.1 percent from the field, including 42.6 percent beyond the arc.
Here are three observations from Golden State’s third consecutive win and the first game of a three-game road trip in the Western Conference:
Curry has enjoyed a few signature games in Oklahoma City – perhaps most notably his “double-bang” game-winning 35-footer in February 2016 – and he was fantastic on this night.
It wasn’t just the 38 points, on 12-of-20 shooting, including 8 of 14 from deep. There were the 12 assists, the eight rebounds, the blocked shot, and the plus-17 over 37 minutes. His 3-pointer with 2:35 remaining forced an OKC timeout and re-ignited the stagnating Golden State offense.
Steph knocks down a clutch triple ð pic.twitter.com/5WvON5qxpN— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 31, 2023
Beyond those mundane details, though, Curry was a picture of control and composure. When he was on the floor, the Warriors tended to own the building.
Curry was particularly significant in the fourth quarter, effectively putting the Thunder to sleep on a night when he passed Wilt Chamberlain to become the all-time franchise leader in made field goals.
The Warriors took a 94-85 lead into the fourth quarter, which coach Steve Kerr opened by giving Curry his usual rest. But instead of the typical six minutes he only got a four-minute break.
That’s because the Thunder opened the fourth with a 13-6 run, closing the gap to 100-98 with 8:22 remaining.
That forced an early return for Curry. With an upcoming back-to-back road set against the hot Timberwolves (11-4 over their last 15 games) and the conference-leading Nuggets, Kerr placed a high priority on this game.
Kerr during his pregame news conference spoke of how well the bench is playing. He was right. The reserves have gotten better. The early fourth quarter was an unwanted throwback to some of their work early this season.
Since failing to record at least their standard 30 assists in four consecutive games this month, the Warriors are refamiliarizing themselves with the concept of effective passing.
They wasted no time against the Thunder, ringing up 15 assists in the first quarter – a season-high for any quarter – to take a 38-20 lead into the second quarter. Golden State finished with 37 assists.
This follows a 40-assist game in a win over the Raptors last Friday and piling up 33 assists in victory over the Grizzlies last Wednesday. The average over the last three games: 36.7 helpers per.
Golden State averaged 27.3 assists in the aforementioned four-game stretch during which they went 2-2. They’re 3-0 in over the last three games.
Moreover, this offense looks a lot more like that which the Warriors generally played during their five consecutive runs to the NBA Finals.
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