Warriors keep momentum going with road win over Thunder


A late January win over a young Oklahoma City Thunder squad shouldn’t feel like such a relief. But the way the Warriors have given away games on the road this season, Monday’s 128-120 victory felt like a big one.

Through the first three months of the season, Golden State was busy figuring itself out, meshing its veteran dynasty core with its young wave of talent while integrating veteran rotation players like Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green. Extended absences for players like Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, DiVincenzo and Green haven't helped.

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Still, there haven’t been any excuses for the way the Warriors have fumbled away some fourth quarters this season. It looked like Monday’s contest was headed that way, as the Thunder trimmed a 21-point deficit to just two points, but three consecutive defensive stops by the Warriors swayed the game in their favor.

First came Kevon Looney’s block on a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, which led to a Jordan Poole 3-pointer on the other end. Then came Andrew Wiggins’ swat of Josh Giddey in the lane. Though he didn’t get credit with a block, Draymond Green also stopped Giddey on a fast break attempt and Steph hit another 3-pointer. That six-point mini-run in 58 seconds gave the Warriors some breathing room as they fended off a valiant comeback attempt.

The Warriors have now won three in a row and four of their past five. They’ve won four of their past six on the road and look like they’ve shaken off the boogeyman away from Chase Center.

"You have to execute on the road down the stretch to win," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "You have to, you have no choice. I think we're getting key buckets at key times."

More importantly, the Warriors are getting back to playing their brand of basketball. It just feels right to see the supreme spacing, unselfish ball movement and easy buckets flowing when Golden State’s offense is humming. They followed up Friday’s 40-assist game with a 37-assist output Monday, despite stalling a bit in the second half.

"We’re whole," Klay Thompson said. "I absolutely believe that big nights are on the horizon."

No slow start against an OKC squad, as the Warriors have been susceptible to falling asleep against young, hungry and athletic teams like the Thunder this year. Golden State recorded 15 assists on its 15 made field goals in the first quarter, with 21 assists on 23 buckets in the first half.

"It was a like a track meet in the first quarter," Curry told NBC Sports Bay Area after the game. "But we got the ball moving and everybody was creating easy shots, so the individual stats come from there. Draymond had a bunch of assists, I contributed on that front and obviously guys gotta make shots. It’s a fun way to play when the ball’s moving around like that."

Wiggins returned to the lineup after another bout with illness and Kerr went to his small starting five, with Curry, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond and Poole. Kerr used a nine-man rotation that featured Kevon Looney, DiVincenzo, Jonathan Kuminga and Anthony Lamb, while JaMychal Green and James Wiseman did not play.

A game after the Splash Brothers combined for 64 points, Steph (38 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) and Klay (28 points) teamed up for 66 points while pacing the offense against the Thunder.

Golden State’s lone defeat in the past five games was an entirely winnable 120-115 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, in a contest when they led by as many as 17. So long as the Warriors can keep their focus, there’s no reason to think they can make a charge toward the top of the West in the remaining eight games before the All-Star break.

Golden State woke up Monday in a four-way tie for the No. 6 seed in the West, but just 2.5 games back of the Sacramento Kings for the conference’s No. 3 seed. They've now won consecutive road games for the first time this year.

"Hopefully we can make it three in a row in Minnesota. That would be nice," Klay said. "I still think we have magic to be the road warriors."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports