BY MARKO UKALOVIC
Dennis Schroder is becoming the secret weapon for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He led his team past the Golden State Warriors coming off the bench with 32 points in 28 minutes in a dominating 123-95 victory on Thanksgiving Eve at Oracle Arena.
While the Warriors were able to contain Russel Westbrook though out most of the game (even with a triple-double), it was the combination of Paul George (25 points), Steven Adams (20 points) and Schroder that paved the way for the Thunder.
Golden State (12-7) has now lost four games in a row and five out of their past six games amid the recent controversy between All-Stars Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. They were also shorthanded with Green missing his third consecutive game with a nagging toe injury and still without Stephan Curry with his groin injury. This is the first time in the Steve Kerr coaching era that the Warriors have lost four games in a row.
The first quarter of play was nothing to write home about. Both team teams shot less than 38% from the floor and were a combined 0-13 from beyond the arc (Golden State was 0-7) before George hit the game’s first 3-pointer with 34 seconds left.
The Thunder (11-6) dominated the Warriors down low by the basket as 16 of their first 20 points were inside the paint led by Adams’ six points and led at the end of the first 12 minutes 23-18. The 18 points was the lowest the Warriors have scored in the first quarter all season. “We were really aggressive coming downhill,” said Adams. “I think they messed up on their coverages a bit.”
The Warriors jumped out to an 8-3 run to start out the second quarter with Klay Thompson scoring the first eight points for Golden State, including back to back 3-pointers. However sloppy play (seven turnovers committed) allowed the Thunder to take an eight-point lead halfway through.
Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer to put OKC up 50-37 with four minutes left in the half to give the Thunder their biggest lead of the game at that point. Schroder led the Thunder as he scored 14 of his 16 first half points on 5 of 8 shooting. Adams also finished the first half with 16 points as OKC outscored the Warriors 37-28 to take a controlling 60-46 lead into halftime.
Golden State opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run to close the gap to 62-59 in the first three minutes of play. Just when it looked like the Warriors would climb over the mountain, George and Schroder would keep them at bay combining for five-three 3-pointers in a row to increase their lead back up to 84-75 with two minutes remaining. OKC would take an 87-79 lead at the end of 36 minutes.
“We had good momentum, we had the crowd back in the game,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “They hit some big shots. They hit several three’s (pointers) during that stretch and it went right back to 12 or so. I thought that was a key point in the game.”
The Thunder took full control in the final 12 minutes as they had a parade of easy layups that the Warriors had no answer for and built up an 109-89 lead on a 22-10 run with 4:11 to go to put the game away for good and send the Oracle faithful heading for the exits.
A scary moment for the Thunder happened when Hamidou Diallo suffered an injury when he fell and landed hard on the floor and had to be carted off the court on a stretcher with 7:17 left in the game. Initial reports from the Thunder PR department is that it was a lower leg injury that was not believed to serious.
“Any time you see one of your teammates, one of your brothers go down, me personally, quickly pray for them,” said Russell Westbrook. “Secondly, just bring your group together and that’s the most important part.”
Durant and Thompson both finished with 27 points to pace the Warriors. Damion Lee, playing in just his seventh NBA game, chipped in with 13 points off the bench.
“We have to make it happen,” said Durant on when the losing will end. “I have confidence that we have the guys in the locker room to make those better days happen.”
Golden State continues its current four-game homestand on Friday night at Oracle against Portland before facing Sacramento on Saturday in it’s fifth back-to-back set of the season. The TrailBlazers lead the Northwest Division with a 12-6 record, one-half game ahead of the Thunder.
GAME NOTES: Golden State shot a season low 66.7 percent from the free throw line and only 24.1 percent from beyond the arc. They are now 0-4 this season when scoring less than 100 points.
This was the 301st consecutive sellout at Oracle Arena for the Warriors. It marks the fourth longest active sellout streak in the NBA. The team also hosted victims of the recent California wildfire tragedy.
Curry will be re-evaluated on Saturday but has been ruled him out against the Sacramento Kings that evening. Back up shooting guard Alfonzo McKinnie also missed his third straight game due to injury.
With the loss, the Warriors are now 13-4 against the Thunder in their last 17 meetings, including the 108-100 Opening Night victory back on October 16th.
OKC’s Terrance Ferguson was also injured with 5:41 left in the first quarter when he collided with Thompson. He had to be helped off the court and went into the locker room with an apparent lower leg injury.