Warriors overtake Thunder for 104-99 win

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season.
Fittingly, they capped the first half of their schedule with one of their most monumental shockers, using two elements foreign to most Golden State teams of the recent past to rally past the Pacific Division-leading Oklahoma City Thunder 104-99 Wednesday night.
Down 94-89 with 4:35 to play, the Warriors turned to defense and interior scoring in a 15-5, game-closing spurt that produced their first victory over the Thunder in the clubs' last six meetings.
"Our defense responded in the second half," said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who watched his club harass the potent Thunder crew into 35.9 percent shooting in the second half after it had scored the nets at a 56.4 percent clip over the first two periods.
"Just a great effort by us," Jackson said. "We defended at a high level."
Russell Westbrook's subpar night (3-for-16, 10 points, six turnovers) played a big-time role in the Thunder's 10th loss of the season. After he dropped in two free throws to put the visitors up by five with just over 4 1/2 minutes to play, Golden State scored on six of its next seven possessions to rally to its 26th victory in the first half's 41 games.
The frontcourt tandem of Carl Landry and David Lee scored seven points in an 11-2 burst that put the Warriors up 97-94 with 2:25 to go. Landry sandwiched Klay Thompson runner's with a dunk and a layup -- the latter shifting the Thunder into a catch-up mode for the final two-plus minutes.
"They did a lot of good things. They moved the ball so well," said Kevin Durant, whose two hoops early in the fourth period helped Oklahoma City go up by eight. "Look at their record, especially at home. We knew it was going to be tough."
Durant made things tough on himself on this night, traveling with the Thunder down one with 2:40 to go, then throwing a pass right to Stephen Curry with 14.9 seconds left and Oklahoma City needing a two-point hoop to tie.
"I've got to make a better read," he said of the belated pass to Kendrick Perkins, which resulted in his sixth turnover of the game. "I made some good passes; I made some bad passes. I've gotta do better."
Free throws by Curry (two) and Jarrett Jack (one) cemented a distinction unique to the Warriors in the season's first half: They're the only team in the league to have beaten the Thunder, Clippers and Heat.
Jackson was not impressed with that stat.
"We've said all along this was not going to be a measuring stick because we know who we are," he said. "We aren't going to rest on this. Every game, whether it's the Clippers or the Thunder or the games coming up, we have to be prepared, we have to be ready and we have to be focused. That will give us the chance to beat anybody."
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 eight in the fourth quarter.
"We are a very good basketball team that is very young, committed, believe in each other and believe in the promise, led by two All-Stars," Jackson said of Curry and Lee, who will find out Thursday night whether indeed they made the Western Conference All-Star team. "Whether anybody wants to acknowledge them or not, we are claiming them that."
Durant paced the Thunder with 33 points, hitting 10 of 17 shots. But four of the misses and four of his turnovers came in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
"We turned the ball over too many times," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team's 19 miscues resulted in 24 Golden State points. "That's something we do occasionally."
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. ... After trumpeting the All-Star causes for his own Curry and Lee, Jackson took time before the game to suggest that 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. ... Curry, who entered the game as the league's No. 2 3-point shooter at 46.4 percent, missed 11 of 14 in the game, including four straight in a 47-second span of the third quarter. ... 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.

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