This is not when to fold them

For 36 minutes, the Oklahoma City Thunder might be the best team in the NBA. Unfortunately, NBA games run 48 minutes, and the Thunder have developed a distressing tendency to fold in the fourth quarter. Admittedly, for a minute there — let’s say, between 5:00 and 4:00 left in the third quarter — this game looked almost doable; the Thunder had a nine-point lead over the mighty Warriors. Those of us who remember all the way back to last night, where OKC frittered away a lead far bigger than that against the decidedly less mighty Clippers, made a point of not mentioning it. Sure enough, the Warriors were back within one at the end of the quarter, and reclaimed the lead shortly thereafter. With 4:00 left, Golden State was up nine, and things would get no better for the hapless Thunder, who essentially were forced to watch the Warriors execute. The final was 121-106, with Steph Curry (of course) delivering the finishing touches before a delighted Oakland crowd which hasn’t had to witness a loss in over a year.

Several things went wrong tonight, but this number sums them up: 8-24. That’s Russell Westbrook missing 16 shots. From long distance, he was 1 of 8. You want more? Kevin Durant was one assist short of a triple-double (32-10-9), but he also had nine turnovers. (The Warriors played 11 men, and they turned it over a mere eight times.) But really, there’s no getting around Steph Curry, and while the Thunder curtailed his three-point game (5-15), Curry compensated by taking shorter shots, finishing with 33 on 12-23. Even lame stuff like “Hey, let’s foul Andrew Bogut!” failed to produce for the Thunder: big Andy swished three of four free throws. And does this sound familiar? Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka all bagged at least 20 points, but no one else managed even ten.

So congrats to Golden State for their 3-0 sweep and their 55-5 record; the Warriors are now on pace for 75 wins, something unheard of in an 82-game season. And if you ask me, they have the sharpest home whites in the league. But I tell you, I’m glad we don’t have to play them again this season. (Post-season? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, if we haven’t burned it down already.)


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