Oklahoma City did what no other team had managed in this postseason by beating the Golden State Warriors on their own court on Monday, giving the Thunder a surprise 1-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City dazzled in the fourth quarter, rallying the visitors from 14 points down for a 108-102 victory.
“You have to have a mindset coming into these kinds of venues. Our guys, they understand what they’re walking into,” coach Billy Donovan said. “The first thing is to embrace the fact it’s going to be hard.”
Durant scored 26 points and made a key 17-foot jumper with 30.7 seconds left, while Westbrook scored 24 of his 27 points in the second half. Westbrook also had 12 assists and seven steals in the opener of the Thunder’s fourth West finals in six years.
Game 2 is Wednesday, also at Oracle Arena.
“We’ve just got to compete,” Westbrook said. “It’s going to be a tough game. It’s a tough building. They have a lot of great players on their team, but I know we’re a great team and when we put our minds to it, tonight we didn’t play our best game and we came out with a win.”
Steven Adams made a pair of free throws for Oklahoma City with 1:01 remaining, and Klay Thompson missed a reverse lay-in moments later on the other end. Adams finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
MVP Stephen Curry had 26 points and a playoff career-high 10 rebounds, but the Warriors missed too many shots. The Warriors’ 42 second-half points and 14 in the fourth both were lows this postseason.
“We got rushed and tried to go for the home-run plays. Sometimes it works,” Curry said. “Defensively we were getting enough stops and rebounds. We got out of character a little bit. It’s something we’ll learn from going forward.”
With his team down 105-102, Steve Kerr begged for a traveling call on Westbrook at midcourt with 17.2 seconds left, with the NBA Coach of the Year signaling with his arms before going into a squat. Oklahoma City got a timeout instead. Westbrook made one free throw with 14.5 seconds to go.
“I do think we lost our poise a little bit,” Kerr said. “And that had a lot to do with the quick shots.”
Thompson scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half, but shot 3 for 10 over the last two quarters. Curry’s 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer gave Golden State a 60-47 lead at the break.
Durant scored to get his team within 88-85 going into the final quarter, and then knocked down a tying 3 just 12 seconds into the fourth. Dion Waiters’ layup at 10:30 put the Thunder ahead for the first time since the opening quarter.
Curry was 9 for 22 from the field, including a 6-for-14 performance from beyond the arc, and committed seven turnovers to go with seven assists. He hit a 3-pointer in his 45th straight playoff game, breaking Reggie Miller’s record set from 1995-2000.
“It’s not a good feeling losing Game 1, especially at home,” Curry said. “It’s fun to have this opportunity to come back, show what we’re made of.”