Steph’s skill > pic.twitter.com/SIggBWrqgk
— KNBR (@KNBR) April 15, 2021
If the Warriors didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter, they still would’ve blown out the Thunder on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. Golden State’s 147-109 victory over a rebuilding Oklahoma City team featured maybe the Warriors’ most impressive offensive stretch of the season, scoring 125 points in just 36 minutes. That included a third quarter in which the team dropped a 50-burger, the sixth ever 50 point quarter in team history.
The Thunder (20-35), who were without a number of players including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lou Dort, never had a chance against a Warriors team that shot a mind-boggling 54.7 percent from the field and 51.1 percent from three. Oh yeah, Stephen Curry was pretty good too, scoring over 40 points for the sixth time this season, after dropping 53 vs. the Nuggets.
The Warriors (27-28) have now won three straight, four out of five and are a game and a half out of the 8th seed in the West behind Memphis (27-25). Here are some takeaways:
Best player in the NBA right now?
With LeBron James out, it’s time to start asking this question if you’re not already. Curry played 29 minutes on Wednesday night. In those minutes, he scored 42 points, had 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and went 14-of-20 shooting. He had 11 threes. The entire Thunder team had seven. In Golden State’s last game, a win over the Nuggets on Monday, he scored 53 points in 36 minutes on 14-of-24 shooting while going 10-of-18 from 3. He’s scored over 30 points in every game in the month of April, over 35 in five out of six, and is averaging 39.5 points while shooting 46.2 percent from 3 during that stretch.
He’s transcendent right now, arguably playing the best basketball of his career, a feat for a player that won back-to-back MVPs. It’s fairly undeniable at this point that Curry is playing better since the James Wiseman injury, with more space on the floor and the entire offense centered around getting him the ball.
He’s also benefiting from more high pick-and-rolls with Draymond Green, allowing the creative point forward to attack the paint and play make. For the second straight night Green’s stat line was as impressive as his play, with a 12 point-10 rebound-16 assist triple-double coming off his season high 18 points vs. the Nuggets.
Warriors tie team record for 3-pointers
Steph was so good on Wednesday night, the Warriors probably would’ve beat the Thunder — whose best player was arguably Darius Bazley — if they got minimal contributions from everyone else. But as it was against Denver, Curry’s play seemed to elevate everyone around him. Even without one of their primary scorers in Kelly Oubre, the Warriors tied a franchise record with 24 made threes in the game. In addition to Curry’s 11, Damion Lee, Jordan Poole and Kent Bazemore each added 3, while Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Mychal Mulder and Gary Payton II each had one. If you are counting at home, more Warriors players made threes (8) than OKC had made threes (7).
Point guard position looking stronger
Poole continued to solidify his role as the team’s backup point guard on Wednesday, with an impressive 17 points and 4 assists in 25 minutes. The Warriors outscored the Thunder by +14 during his time on the floor. His emergence is encouraging for both this season and beyond, but Golden State may have found another backup point guard option on Wednesday as well.
In his first run after signing a 10-day contract, Gary Payton II showed the hard-nosed defensive versatility that convinced the Warriors to take a flier on him. Payton, son of the Hall of Famer and the reigning G League Defensive Player of the Year, stole the ball 4 times, had a block, scored 10 points and had 4 rebounds in just 9 minutes on the floor. As a disruptive perimeter defender, he provides a skill that Poole does not have, and assuming Wednesday wasn’t a complete fluke, could be a second-unit option against bigger backcourts where Poole struggles defensively.