NBA Gameday: Without Durant, Warriors still favored at OKC

NBA Gameday: Without Durant, Warriors still favored at OKC

The Warriors make their second trip of the season to Oklahoma City, and though once again there will be hatred in the air, the storyline this time will be very different.

Whereas that Feb. 11 game featured the return of Kevin Durant to the city he represented for eight years, the matchup Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena pits reigning MVP Stephen Curry against rampaging MVP candidate Russell Westbrook.

Though Durant is injured and unavailable, the animosity is starting to feel personal between these teams, and certainly between some of the individuals.

The Warriors (55-14) are trying to win four straight for the first time this month, while OKC (40-29) has won five in a row, the longest active streak in the NBA.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 1

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson vs. Russell Westbrook. It’s a fairly simple equation to beating the Thunder, and it starts with limiting the damage done by Westbrook. OKC is 12-23 when he does not post a triple-double. The problem, however, is that he has 34. The Warriors will alternate defenders on Westbrook -- it takes a team to have any hope of containing him -- but Thompson, four inches taller, will get the bulk of the work.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, tibial bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Thunder: No injuries listed.

LAST 10

Warriors: 5-5. Thunder: 6-4.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first three meetings this season, the last six in the regular season and nine of the last 10. The teams met in the 2016 Western Conference Finals, won by the Warriors in seven games.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE 3-BALL GAME: Behind Klay Thompson and Curry, the Warriors are one of best, ranking third in shooting percentage (38.1) beyond the arc. The Thunder (33.0) are among the worst, ranking 28th. The Warriors will work to prevent penetration -- OKC leads the league in paint points -- and force jump shots.

THE GLASS WAR: OKC is a proficient rebounding team, particularly good on the offensive glass. With the Thunder ranking fifth in second-chance points, the Warriors will have to emphasize such fundamentals as blocking out -- something they sometimes neglect.

THE TURNOVER BATTLE: Though the Warriors are susceptible to turnovers, they generally have gotten better in recent months. OKC, however, is in an entirely different league, ranking 27th in assist-to-turnover ratio. The only teams worse are the Suns, Nets and Lakers. This is a formula that could allow the Warriors to trigger their transition offense.

Thompson provides the early magic in win over Orlando

Thompson provides the early magic in win over Orlando

OAKLAND -- Maybe it’s the comforts of home, whether it’s hangout out with his pet Rocco or pulling into the familiar surroundings of Oracle Arena, but Klay Thompson is holding up his end of his promise.

The sixth-year guard is back to punishing opposing defenses, as he consistently vowed would happen during what amounted to a three-game cold spell.

“Klay had it rolling early,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Thompson provided the offensive spark Tuesday night that led to a 122-92 mauling of the Magic.

Thompson brought the fire, and he brought it early, scorching Orlando for 21 points in the first 10 minutes. It was his third 20-point quarter this season, the first two coming in his 60-point game against the Pacers on Dec. 5.

Thompson made his first shot, missed his second and then made the next seven in a row. He made his first five 3-pointers.

“It definitely helps when you make four or five in a row,” Thompson said. “You feel like every shot is going to go in. And tonight was one of those nights where I was just in a great rhythm from the jump.”

Thompson’s hot start generated a momentum that lasted the entire night. He stayed aggressive but tailed off later, missing eight of his last 11 shots, but he had done enough damage with his early work.

You can definitely see it in his body language,” Draymond Green said, “because he’s definitely going to chase that next one. Klay definitely shows you.

“The thing was, they were all great shots. Guys continued to find him. He continued to move without the basketball . . . he gave you lanes to get him the ball, and once you got it to him he was knocking them down. Then, all of a sudden, he started taking them off the dribble and knocking tough shots down.”

Thompson totaled 29 points, most of them in transition. The Warriors’ defense forced 21 turnovers, off which they scored 36 points.

“We were able to get out in transition, just from our stops,” Thompson said. “And when Draymond and Steph (Curry) are pushing the break, usually something great happens. And tonight was one of those nights where if you get a few good looks early, you can take a couple tough ones and they went in.”

Thompson after the three-game slump during which he was 8-of-33 from deep, he has made 13 of his last 24.

“I want to carry this momentum into Saturday and build up some wins here, especially at home,” he said.

Instant Replay: Klay scores 27 in first half, Warriors mash Magic

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AP

Instant Replay: Klay scores 27 in first half, Warriors mash Magic

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson and the Warriors made this one look easy. They also got plenty of help from the hapless Orlando Magic.

Riding Thompson’s hot shooting and turning 21 Magic turnovers into 36 points, the Warriors coasted to a 122-92 victory before a satisfied sellout crowd at Oracle Arena Thursday night.

The win gave the Warriors (54-14) a third consecutive Pacific Division title for the first time in franchise history and also increased to 1.5 games their lead over San Antonio in the Western Conference playoff race.

Thompson led all scorers with 29 points, Stephen Curry put in 25, Andre Iguodala 14, Ian Clark 13 and Zaza Pachulia 10 as the Warriors shot 68.4 percent in the first quarter and 57.5 percent for the game.

With a 103-71 lead after three quarters, Warriors coach Steve Kerr emptied his bench in the fourth quarter.

Jeff Green and Elfrid Payton scored 13 points apiece to lead Orlando (24-45), which lost for the sixth time in seven games and 13th over the last 17.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Thompson ignited the rout and his teammates soon followed.

Thompson’s line: 29 points (12-of-20 shooting from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc), five assists, four rebounds and one block. He played 29 minutes and finished plus-19.

Thompson scored 21 points in the first quarter on 8-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-7 from deep. It was the third time this season he has scored at least 20 in a quarter.

TURNING POINT

The Warriors didn’t need much time to take command. They were up 10 (12-2) in less than four minutes and up 21 (31-10) with 3:24 left in the first quarter.

The Magic got no closer than 17 points in the second half.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: Curry left in the first quarter after sustaining a slight tweak to his right ankle, but returned shortly thereafter and played 28 minutes. F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise) was listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Magic: G Jodie Meeks (R thumb surgery recovery) was listed as questionable and declared out prior to tipoff.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Saturday night, when they play host to the Milwaukee Bucks at Oracle Arena.