Warriors observations: What we learned in 118-97 win vs. Thunder

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What we learned as Steph, Warriors rumble past Thunder originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors climbed back over .500 Thursday night and, by all appearances, on Saturday they’ll have an excellent chance to go two games over for the first time since mid-March.

Despite enough sloppy moments to keep the game semi-competitive, they had more than enough for a 118-97 victory over the clearly rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder.

The victory moved Golden State (34-33) into eighth place in the Western Conference, one-half game ahead of the Grizzlies and two full games in front of the 10th place Spurs.

Stephen Curry scored a game-high 34 points, with Mychal Mulder coming off the bench to put in 25 and Andrew Wiggins adding 18.

Here are three observations from a game that most of the way, considering Oklahoma City (21-46) had lost 18 of its last 19 games, was closer than it should have been:

The Steph Show

OKC has identified Luguenz Dort as its primary wing defender of the present and future. He is quite good.

His assignment, however, was Curry, who used savvy and shooting to gain an immediate advantage. Dort picked up three fouls in nine first-quarter minutes and his fourth late in the second quarter, and was limited to 10 minutes in the first half.

Curry scored 17 in the half, but really got going in third quarter, scoring 17 points. His 34 points came on 11-of-21 shooting from the field and 6-of-13 from beyond the arc. He has scored at least 30 points in 18 of his last 20 games.

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Averaging 31.5 points per game, Curry maintained his lead in the NBA scoring derby, just ahead of Wizards star Bradley Beal, remained on the outskirts of the MVP race.

A goal not completed

One goal for the Warriors in this instance is to take command early enough to get a few extra minutes of rest for the veterans. They failed in that endeavor.

They led by 12 late in the first quarter but the Thunder trimmed the margin to five early in the second. Golden State went up 17 late in the second quarter, only for OKC to pull within six points midway through the third.

Not until the fourth quarter, which opened with the Warriors holding an 88-72 lead, were they able to create enough separation to keep the Thunder at bay. 

Coach Steve Kerr, having witnessed the first-half givebacks, reinserted Green and Curry in the fourth, just long enough for the Warriors to put the game out of reach.

Home could use a bit more heat

With this being the first of six consecutive games at Chase Center, with the Warriors hoping to generate a homecourt advantage, there can’t be a more attractive situation than to start with consecutive games against a team with one win since March.

RELATED: Kerr says Warriors looking to add to roster

The crowd was lively enough, but seemed to expect more. With good reason. 

The Warriors are playing for something. Every game matters. The Thunder are playing out the season so the front office can evaluate young players to decide which ones to keep and which to discard.

Maybe the energy – of the Warriors and the fans – will be higher when the teams meet again on Saturday.

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