Warriors 104, Thunder 99By Dave Del Grande, Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Thu, Jan 24, 2013 1:20 AM EST
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors closed Wednesday's game on a 15-5 run, turning a 94-89 deficit with 4:35 to play into a dramatic 104-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. After Russell Westbrook dropped in two free throws to put the visitors up by five, Golden State scored on six of its next seven possessions to rally into its first victory over the Western Conference power in seven meetings. Carl Landry and David Lee scored all but two of the Warriors' points in an 11-2 burst that produced a 97-94 lead with 2:25 to go. Landry had the hoop that gave Golden State the lead for good, converting an interior hoop with 3:08 remaining. The Thunder, playing for the fourth time on their 10-day, six-game Western swing, got as close as one on two subsequent occasions, the final time when Kevin Durant hit two free throws with 1:31 remaining. But Lee turned a Stephen Curry assist into a layup with 1:18 left, and the Warriors held on from there to finish the first half of their season with the distinction of being the only team to have beaten the Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat. Curry led the Warriors with 31 points despite shooting just 11-for-27. Lee finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Landry had 20 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Durant paced the Thunder with 33 points, but Oklahoma City could not overcome 3-for-16 shooting from Westbrook, who was held to 10 points. Each of the Thunder's two stars turned the ball over six times. The Thunder tightened the defensive screws over an 8:35 span that bridged the third and fourth periods, allowing the visitors to turn a four-point deficit into an 86-78 advantage in the fourth minute of the final period. The stretch included one of the least memorable stretches of Curry's season. The league's second-best 3-pointer shooter over the course of the season at 46.4 percent, Curry misfired on four consecutive 3s over a 47-second nightmare, including three straight on one possession as he attempted to build upon the Warriors' 72-69 lead. The Warriors finished the period missing seven of their last nine shots, allowing the Thunder to pull into a 79-76 lead on a strength of an 11-4 run. Kevin Martin had two of Oklahoma City's four hoops over that stretch. The Thunder's defensive dominance carried over into the fourth period, during which the Warriors missed four consecutive shots after Landry began the period with a 15-footer. Golden State also mixed in two turnovers, managing only two points in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the quarter. Meanwhile, Martin nailed a 3-pointer and Nick Collison and Durant added hoops as the Thunder went up by as many as eight before the Warriors rallied late. Neither team gained much of an upper hand in the first half, which featured amazing shooting performances by Durant and the Warriors' Klay Thompson. The Thunder led 57-52 at the intermission mainly on the strength of Durant's 18 points, which came on just eight shots. He made six of them, including both of his 3-point attempts, and all four of his free throws. Thompson did his best to provide a counterpunch for the Warriors. He did Durant one better from 3-point range, nailing three during a 15-point half. Thompson ended the night with 19 points. With Kendrick Perkins (4-for-4) and Martin (3-for-3) hitting all seven of their first-half shots, the Thunder connected at a 56.4 percent rate over the first 24 minutes, allowing them to overcome 10 turnovers that produced 14 Golden State points. NOTES: All-Star reserves will be announced Thursday, with the Thunder fully expecting Westbrook to earn one of the seven spots. He would join starter Durant in Houston for the Feb. 17 showcase. Warriors coach Mark Jackson has been pushing his two standouts -- Curry and Lee -- for reserve spots. ... Jackson also took time to suggest the NBA come up with a new way of selecting All-Star starters in the aftermath of the Lakers' Dwight Howard gaining a spot in the fan vote this season. "The Los Angeles Lakers should not have two starters on the All-Star team," Jackson said. ... The Warriors reached the midpoint of their 82-game schedule in second place in the Pacific Division for the first time in 21 years, dating to when they were 28-13 and trailing only Portland in 1992. ... The Warriors headed east immediately following the game, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Warriors went 6-1 on an Eastern swing in December. This trip takes them to Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto and Cleveland. ... The Thunder's Durant entered the game ranked second in the league in minutes per game at 39.7. Asked if that was a concern, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks shook his head and noted, "When I take Kevin out five minutes each half, he feels like I'm benching him."
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