Kevin Durant drops 40, Warriors dominate Thunder again: Takeaways
Russell Westbrook had another triple-double, but it didn't matter
Kevin Durant stuck it to the Oklahoma City Thunder again. After scoring 39 points in the Golden State Warriors' 26-point rout of the Thunder back in November, Durant had a season-high 40 against his former team in a 121-100 victory on Wednesday. His former teammate Russell Westbrook had his 21st triple-double of the season, but Golden State's firepower was too much. The Warriors outscored Oklahoma City 37-22 in the third quarter, creating separation as soon as they stopped turning the ball over.
This was one of Durant's best games of the season, but it was because of the efficiency, not merely the point total. Offensively, he was nearly perfect. Durant dropped 40 on 13-of-16 shooting, and that includes a missed dunk and a missed half-court heave. Some players try to be ultra-aggressive in games like this and it ends up backfiring, but Durant was his normal self, piling up points with ease and never forcing anything.
Durant had 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, too. This was a masterful performance on both ends of the court. He's not really getting any MVP consideration because of what Westbrook and James Harden are doing, but he has many MVP-type performances this year. Both games against the Thunder fit into that category.
Weird night for Westbrook
A lot happened to Westbrook. The fact he needed only three quarters to get another triple-double barely even registers as interesting. Here are the top four Westbrook moments from this game:
He finally talked to Durant.
He had a vicious driving dunk in traffic.
He was taunted by Zaza Pachulia after a flagrant foul.
He committed the worst (or best!) travel in NBA history.
That's a lot of activity! Oh, and he finished with 27 points on 8-of-23 shooting, 15 rebounds, 13 assists and 10 turnovers. That's his second pseudo-quadruple-double in less than a week.
Let's check in on Steve Kerr's pet peeve
The Warriors coach is always talking to his team about turnovers, and this game showed exactly why. The first half was sloppy, with neither team really finding a rhythm and the crowd mostly disengaged. Golden State's offense was great when it held onto the ball, but it turned the ball over 13 times and went into halftime with the score tied.
In the third quarter, the Warriors didn't turn the ball over at all and totally broke the game open. It's pretty simple: Golden State has more talent than everybody else, and is close to unstoppable when it is playing with a sense of purpose and flow. That was lacking early in this game, but the Warriors turned things around like they usually do.
The Kanter conundrum
The first time these two teams met, Enes Kanter played only three minutes and the Thunder were outscored by 11 points in that short stretch. Just like in last year's playoffs, the Warriors targeted Kanter in pick-and-rolls and OKC coach Billy Donovan decided the simplest solution was to limit his minutes. This time, when Kanter checked in, he scored 10 quick points in five minutes, exploiting JaVale McGee's tendency to bite at pump fakes.
In 30 minutes, Kanter finished with 22 points on 11-of-18 shooting, plus nine rebounds, including four on the offensive glass. He's still a poor defender, and that's a problem, but he has made some progress on that end and improved as a passer as the season has gone on. Perhaps this is a sign he'll be able to stay on the floor in the playoffs this season.
Andre Roberson is essentially the opposite of Kanter. He's one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA, and Donovan relies on him to guard multiple positions. Roberson absolutely needs to play big minutes against Golden State, but his offensive limitations hurt the Thunder. The Warriors essentially ignore him on offense, and he rarely makes them pay. In 34 minutes, he shot 1 for 7 and scored 3 points. He even airballed a free throw.
There are people who don't understand Roberson's value, so I would like to reiterate that he's an awesome defender. His lack of range wouldn't be such as much of an issue on a team that had more shooting up and down the roster, but Oklahoma City's lack of spacing stood out even more than normal in contrast to Golden State.
Barkley did not hold back with his opinion of the Big Baller Brand patriarch
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