Visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, stunned the NBA champion Golden State Warriors and their fans with a 108-102 victory in the first game of the Western Conference finals.
Thunder was led by point guard Russell Westbrook’s third quarter 19 points explosion.
Buoyed by their four games to two demolitions of five-time champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals, the Thunder arrived in the San Francisco Bay area full of confidence.
They were sure ready to take on the Warriors, who only lost twice at home in the regular season.
If the first game is an indication of how the conference finals will go, then fans are in for a treat.
The never say die Westbrook, a speedy, in-your- face, aggressive guard, simply willed his team to victory in an impressive performance away from home.
Westbrook did it all: he finished with 27 points, 12assists, seven steals, and six rebounds.
Kevin Durant missed seven straight shots in the fourth quarter, but redeemed himself with a critical basket down the stretch.
He scored 26 points and added 10 rebounds. Serge Ibaka had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
And Steven Adams had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the visitors.
For the Warriors, Stephen Curry had 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Klay Thompson scored 25 points and added10 rebounds while Draymond Green contributed 23 points.
The Warriors shot themselves in the foot in this game by uncharacteristically turning the ball over 14 times to the Thunder’s only two turnovers.
The Thunder scored 20 points off of those turnovers. The Warriors dominated the first half of game one.
The first half ended with the champ leading the Thunder 60-47.
At half-time, most fans in the arena probably figured they were about to witness a rout of the Thunder.
But the Warriors were not able to extend their 13-point half-time lead in the third quarter as the Thunder’s Westbrook decided to take over the game for his team.
They poured in 19 points and trimmed their deficit to three points to end the quarter.
The Thunder took the lead 95-91 in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter and never gave it up even though their leader Durant suddenly went cold from the field.
The Warriors, the best shooting team in the league, missed a bunch of shots in the fourth quarter that would have secured victory for them on Monday night.
Game two of the series is on Wednesday this week.
By Bayo Akinnagbe