Suddenly, the Golden State Warriors team that a short time ago was being favorably compared to the all-time great teams of NBA history is now on the brink of elimination from the Western Conference finals.
Oklahoma City beat Golden State 118-94 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the series and move within one win of prematurely ending the Warriors’ record-breaking season.
Russell Westbrook had 36 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his first triple-double of the playoffs after posting 18 in the regular season, and Kevin Durant added 26 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
Golden State, which won a league record 73 games in the regular season, lost consecutive games for the first time this season. The Warriors must win Game 5 on Thursday in Oakland to keep their season alive.
“We all have to bounce back,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The idea now is to go home and get one win. Do that, and we put some pressure on them and we’ll see what happens.”
Klay Thompson led Golden State with 26 points. Two-time league MVP Stephen Curry was limited to 19 points on 6-for-20 shooting, but Kerr insisted he was not still being affected by the knee injury that troubled him in the late stages of the regular season.
“He’s not injured,” Kerr said. “He’s coming back from the knee, but he’s not injured. He just had a lousy night. It happens, even to the best players in the world.”
Oklahoma City got a boost from an unlikely source. Andre Roberson, a player the Warriors have ignored at times during the series, scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Kevin Durant added 26 points and 11 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Nine teams have rallied from 3-1 deficits in NBA playoff series to win 4-3.
“We’re in a good place, but like I said, this game is over,” Westbrook said. “We’ve got to move on to the next game. Every game is different.”
The Thunder led 30-26 at the end of the first quarter, then gained control in the second. In the most unlikely of connections, Adams threw a bullet pass to Roberson near the basket for a dunk that gave the Thunder a 56-43 lead with just over four minutes left in the first half.
Oklahoma City finished with a flurry and led 72-53 at halftime. The Thunder matched the most points they have scored in a first half in franchise playoff history, a mark they set the previous game against the Warriors. It also matched the most points Golden State has allowed in a half this season for the second straight game.
Westbrook had 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds in the first half, and Durant had 18 points and six boards.
Thompson tried to keep the Warriors in it, scoring 19 points in just over seven minutes to start the third quarter. But the Thunder maintained their composure, led 94-82 at the end of the period and remained in control in the fourth.
“This is a tough situation to be in, but the series isn’t over,” Curry said.