The Warriors shaved a 19-point first-half deficit to four, but couldn’t make up for the absences of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green against the upstart Thunder.
Despite limiting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to 6-for-21 shooting, Golden State got trucked at home by Oklahoma City for its fifth consecutive defeat.
Curry (knee) and Green (suspension) left the Warriors with a thin roster, and Klay Thompson blew an opportunity to pace the offense. The five-time All-Star scored just 5 points while shooting 1-for-10, making strong performances from Jonathan Kuminga and Kevon Looney moot.
The 128-109 loss sets the Warriors (6-7) up for a rematch with Oklahoma City on Saturday, which will mark the end of six straight playoff contenders on GSW’s schedule. Another loss would make the Warriors 0-6 against the Thunder, Nuggets, Timberwolves and Cavaliers.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game.
Looney taking advantage
The most success the Warriors had for much of the game was when Kevon Looney kept errant jumpers alive.
Against Thunder lineups without a center — or even ones with Chet Holmgren — Looney dominated the offensive glass. In his first 10 minutes, he grabbed five offensive rebounds and seven overall.
At one point, Looney corralled two rebounds in a row, the latter of which got negated by an OKC loose ball foul. The Thunder sent Holmgren into the game after the foul, and Looney beat him for a board right away, too.
Golden State is rarely going to have a size advantage over its opponents. But unless Oklahoma City acquires a more traditional center, Looney will be able to feast against the Thunder.
Looney posted 13 points and 11 rebounds (seven offensive) in 19 minutes. All of his production came in the flow of the offense and looked wholly repeatable.
When the Warriors are at full strength, this should be a fantastic matchup for Looney.
Klay Thompson’s groove
The start of this season has been a struggle for Thompson, who never got into a rhythm on Thursday night.
In a walk year, Thompson has defended well — particularly against bigger opponents — but has shot well below his career averages. Against the Thunder, he struggled to gain any separation off the ball and had even less success off the dribble. Some credit should go to strong defense from OKC, particularly from Luguentz Dort, but the Warriors still need Thompson to be able to beat strong defense.
Thompson finished with just five points on 1-for-10 shooting. He entered the contest shooting 34.2% from 3 (down from his career average of (41.5%) and scoring 14.6 points per game. It’s possible he doesn’t have the same lift on his jumper as he had in the past, or he could just be missing makable shots in a small sample.
Yet since he had a more traditional offseason that included pickup this summer, Thompson was supposed to avoid the same early-season tribulations that plagued him last year.
It’s not time to panic yet; Thompson started slow last year before putting up two of the best months of his career in January and February. But especially without Curry, the onus is on Thompson to find his stroke.
How much bad injury luck can the Warriors weather?
Fifty-four seconds into the second quarter, Gary Payton II rolled his ankle on Holmgren’s foot. He shot two free throws and then, bizarrely, severely limped around the court for a minute and a half of game time before getting subbed out.
Payton was clearly laboring after injuring his ankle and headed straight to the trainer’s room after getting replaced. He was later diagnosed with a sprained left ankle, and x-rays that came back negative.
It’s unclear how much time Payton will have to miss. Golden State is already without Curry, who’s dealing with a minor ankle injury. Draymond Green is also set to miss four more games due to his suspension.
The Warriors have more depth this year than they did last season. Still, the margin is thin. Payton is a crucial piece to the puzzle as a connector, corner 3-point shooter, cutter, energizer and point-of-attack defender.
Moses Moody is the likeliest candidate to step up in Payton’s absence. He curiously didn’t play at all in the first quarter, then scored 10 points, playing so well the Warriors couldn’t take him out for the entire second frame.
Moody’s complementary skill set has probably earned him a regular role in the rotation. Without Payton, he could get extended looks. More terrific games from Kuminga wouldn’t hurt, either.