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OKC keeps Warriors reeling in 125-105 win

Mark Medina, The Mercury News on

Published in Basketball

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Even if the on-court tension showed otherwise, Kevin Durant insisted any subsequent matchup against Oklahoma City bodes just as much significance as any other game.

For the Golden State Warriors, that might not really be a good thing. The buzz and effort level increased as the Warriors played a nationally televised game against the Thunder on Tuesday at Oracle Arena instead of a forgettable opponent during the NBA dog days. Yet, the Warriors suffered a 125-105 loss to the Thunder for the same reason as their other two losses in the previous three games against less quality opponents. The Warriors latest performance also led to a 1-4 record this season against the Thunder (0-2) and Rockets (1-2), two teams that could face the Warriors in the postseason.

The Warriors (41-13) committed endless turnovers because of lazy passes (25 turnovers) that turned into lots of points for the Thunder (31-24). They lacked enough of a defensive edge that slowed down the inevitable (Paul George: 38 points; Russell Westbrook: 34 points) and the preventable (54 points in the paint, 12-of-31 from 3-point range). It sounds similar to what happened when the Warriors lost by 30 points last week in Utah and coughed up 25 turnovers in a loss in Denver.

Yet, some new wrinkles emerged in the Warriors' latest setback in what marks their worst play since suffering a three-game losing streak in the 2016-17 season. The normally prolific and balanced Warriors offense suddenly disappeared.

Durant posted a team-leading 33 points, while remaining efficient from the field (8-of-14), from 3-point range (3-of-8) and from the free-throw line (14-of-15). As for everyone else? Steph Curry (18 points) did not shoot efficiently from the field (6-of-14) or from the perimeter (2-of-9). Neither did Klay Thompson (12), who went 5-of-13 from the field and 2-of-6 from 3-point range.

This all happened despite Carmelo Anthony playing six minutes after spraining his right ankle and without Andre Roberson, whom Durant considered "probably the best defender" before suffering a season-ending injury to left patellar tendon in a Jan. 27 game against Detroit.

Such developments should disturb the Warriors far more than the repeated questions Durant fielded before the game about the Thunder.

"I got a question," Durant said. "Why do you care so much?"

Well, plenty of intrigue centers on Durant's defection from the Thunder, his soured relationship with Westbrook and if more fireworks await. All of those storylines have bothered Westbrook, who walked out of morning shootaround after hearing a question about the Warriors. Durant said he feels the same way.

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"It's not even about the game," Durant said. "It's about the personal (stuff). Can we talk about basketball for a second?"

The Warriors' tension against the Thunder veered elsewhere.

Draymond Green was ejected with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter with a league-leading 13 technicals after arguing a call and subsequently waved his hand in disgust toward official Lauren Holtkamp. He picked up a technical to close the first half after expressing displeasure over a no call after Thunder forward Jerami Grant elbowed him in the mouth. Curry nearly threw his mouthpiece over a noncall before restraining himself.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr picked up a technical in the second quarter, before assistant Mike Brown restrained him. Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob threw off his jacket in disgust when Durant was called for a foul in the third quarter after Westbrook tripped over his own feet.

All of which captured the Warriors' frustration with something else: another loss after failing to address their poor habits.

(c)2018 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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