It was Kevin Durant’s homecoming of sorts, back to play in an arena that he made famous for the past five years. On the back of Kevin Durant’s prowess, the Oklahoma City Thunder made it to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. That was in 2012 when Russell Westbrook wasn’t the superstar and triple-double phenom that he is now, when James Harden was still coming off the bench.
This game has been the most talked about ever since Durant and Westbrook had their public falling out, when Westbrook trolled Durant on social media and entered the Golden States Warriors Oracle Arena wearing an attire with the words “Official Photographer” on it. Many saw that as a shot against Durant who is an actual photographer and had a credentialed pass for last year’s Super Bowl.
Both teams play in the Western Conference, and therefore will face each other four times in the regular season. The first two games have been at the home court of the Golden State Warriors, and the Warriors — led by a very determined Durant — have beaten the Thunder quite comfortably. Golden State won 122-96 in the first meeting, and 121-100 in the next.
It was clear right from the get go that Durant was not going to get a warm reception. Fans booed him every time he touched the ball. The first quarter could have gone differently and set the tone for the rest of the game had Oklahoma City managed to not turn the ball over as much. They led the Warriors on six different occasions, but like the story of this season so far, the Warriors managed to make vital shots at important moments to pull them back, and score 30 points. The Thunder ended the quarter with 24.
The second quarter was another showpiece from the Golden State Warriors. They scored an incredible 43 points and led the Thunder by 23 at the half. Steph Curry already had 17 Points and Durant 15. The Thunder, as anyone would have guessed, were trying to keep pace on the back of Westbrook’s 21 points and nine rebounds. But yet again, the one stat that has been the undoing of the Thunder this season is the turnover stat, and Westbrook already had seven turnovers at the Half.
Klay Thompson hit a three-pointer to start off the third quarter, and the Warriors players quietly went about playing their roles. They ended the quarter with a 105-88 lead, but not once did the crowd stop cheering for their team and booing Durant.
Here’s an important fact that gets overlooked in the Westbrook show — at the end of three quarters, while the entire Golden State Warriors team only had six turnovers, Westbrook himself alone had nine. But of course, fans on social media and commentators will gasp in awe at his other numbers.
Westbrook went into an ‘unstoppable’ mode in the third quarter. He scored 20 points, and has been the theme did this season, tried to do it all.
You felt like you were watching a Finals, or a must-win game. The atmosphere was electric throughout the four quarters. Oklahoma City Thunder played their hearts out but it was never going to be enough. They just did not have enough firepower. For the Thunder to have had a real shot at winning the game, the All-Stars on Golden State would have had to have an off-night, and Westbrook to not turn the ball over as much as he did.
Unfortunately, those two things did not take place. Durant, Curry, and Thompson, scored 34, 26, and 26 respectively. And Westbrook, even though he had 47 points and 11 rebounds, he did turn the ball over 11 times.
The thing that everyone had wanted to see happened, and it wasn’t a basketball act. Durant and Westbrook got into a shouting match and everyone loved it — the fans in the arena, and people in different parts of the world watching at home. It happened in the third quarter after a timeout had been called as each player were going back to their respective hurdles. Westbrook yelled, “I’m coming” at Durant.
But Golden State beat Oklahoma City Thunder for the third time this season, this time by the score of 130-114.
Updated Date: Feb 12, 2017 12:22:46 IST