Thunder rout Warriors to grab edge in West finals

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Draymond Green No.23 of the Golden State Warriors shoots against Kevin Durant No.35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. AFP PHOTO

Draymond Green No.23 of the Golden State Warriors shoots against Kevin Durant No.35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. AFP PHOTO

WASHINGTON: Behind 33 points from Kevin Durant and 30 by Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder humbled defending NBA champion Golden State 133-105 on Sunday (Monday in Manila) to seize the lead in their playoff series.

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The Thunder grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals and captured momentum with the lopsided blowout, making Tuesday’s fourth game at Oklahoma City crucial for both clubs.

“We have got to keep the same intensity, same attack mode,” Westbrook said. “They didn’t have the best record in the NBA for nothing. We’ve got to come back with the same mindset and play with the same intensity.”

Golden State, which set an NBA record with 73 regular-season wins, has not lost two games in a row all season but will have to quickly bounce back from an embarrassment.

“Using our brains, making them compete, moving the ball — we didn’t do any of those things and we got what we deserved,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“I’m confident we’re going to come out and play a great game in game four. We’ll see what happens.”

Either the Thunder, who have won 10 best-of-seven series in a row when going up 2-1, or the Warriors will face the Eastern Conference winners, the Toronto Raptors or Cleveland Cavaliers, in next month’s NBA Finals.

In addition to sparking the highest-scoring performance by any team in any NBA playoff game this year, Westbrook and Durant each added eight rebounds and blocked two shots while Westbrook also contributed 12 assists.

“We’ve got a physical team, an athletic team and we tried to use that to the best of our ability,” Westbrook said. “Our guys do a great job of putting in the work every day. My job is to put the ball in their hands.”

Thunder must keep passion
Stephen Curry led Golden State with 24 points and Klay Thompson added 18, but Curry hit only 7-of-17 shots from the floor, Thompson shot 8-of-19 and Draymond Green was 1-of-9. The Warriors were also outrebounded 52-38.

“Come game four, we have to grind them out,” Thompson said. “We can’t have Westbrook and Durant combine to shoot 60 percent.”

Durant scored 23 in the first half while Westbrook added 16 as the Thunder leaped ahead in the second quarter and piled on more punishment in the second half, stretching the lead to 117-80 after three quarters and went on to match a club playoff scoring record.

“We were physical and we rebounded the ball well,” Durant said. “My teammates did a great job taking the pressure off me. We have to keep playing with the same energy and passion.”

The Thunder closed the second quarter on a 32-7 run to seize a 72-47 half-time edge, aided by the Warriors missing 21 of their last 23 first-half shots from the floor.

“Frustrating way to end the quarter,” Curry said. “It was a bad flow out there. We couldn’t stop it. That six minutes decided the game. That’s something we have to take care of in game four.”

Golden State lost their three prior playoff defeats in the past month by a total of 19 points, nine fewer than they lost by in game three.

“We got our butts kicked,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one point or 30.”

Kiwi gets kick from Green
Green kicked Thunder big man Steven Adams of New Zealand in the groin late in the second quarter and could face a suspension for game four.

“I wasn’t trying to kick somebody in the mid-section,” Green said. “I’m sure he wants to have kids one of these days.”

Thunder coach Billy Donovan praised the Kiwi’s toughness.

“That’s the one thing with Steven that’s really remarkable — he takes a physical pounding and he’s a tough kid,” Donovan said. “He has got a great pain threshold.”

Oklahoma City outscored Golden State 29-13 on fast break points, humbling the team that led the NBA in that category. Time and again Durant and Westbrook penetrated the Warriors defense to slam down a dunk or simply toss in a layup.

“We went [isolation]basketball and everything went bad,” Green said. “We just have to be better.”

The Warriors, who hit only 19-of-55 shots from the floor in the first half (34 percent), faced their largest half-time deficit of the season.

“We stopped moving the ball,” Kerr said. “We took quick shots. It wasn’t so much turnovers as bad shots, quick shots, no movement. We weren’t forcing them to defend at all and that’s death here. We were playing right into their transition game.

“We didn’t compete hard enough to stay in the game.”

AFP

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