Golden state lay down marker

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant congratulating his teammate Stephen Curry for nailing a three-pointer during their 108-100 opening win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant congratulating his teammate Stephen Curry for nailing a three-pointer during their 108-100 opening win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.PHOTO: REUTERS

Warriors power past Thunder in season opener as Curry outlines team's 'three-peat' intentions

SAN FRANCISCO • It may be just their first game of the new National Basketball Association (NBA) season, but defending champions Golden State Warriors know exactly what lies at stake for them.

And superstar point guard Stephen Curry was not coy about the potential "three-peat" of winning consecutive championships.

The two-time Most Valuable Player collected his championship ring for leading Golden State to a third NBA title in four campaigns, before powering the Warriors past the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-100 in their season opener at the Oracle Arena on Tuesday.

Curry scored 32 points with nine assists and eight rebounds while Kevin Durant had 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Warriors held off a fourth-quarter fightback from Oklahoma to make a triumphant start in their quest for a fourth crown in five years.

"The first game could go either way with timing and overall execution," Curry said. "We had a terrible third quarter, but we withstood the run and were able to get the job done. We've got to take care of the ball better. That will come with more possession that we will get throughout the season.

"We know what's at stake. Winning three in a row would put us in some very select company.

"We're not shy talking about it. But you have to do the little things throughout the season. I think we're ready for it."

The highlight of the night came when NBA commissioner Adam Silver handed out championship jewellery - Golden State's Steve Kerr taking his fourth as a coach to go with four he won as a player - and praised the Warriors for more than their on-court skills.

"The Warriors have a tradition of excellence based on universal values like teamwork, respect and unity," Silver said.

"They continue a long legacy of NBA players and teams who compete for something bigger than a game by embracing the power of sport to build bridges and make better people's lives."

Then came the occasion of the final championship banner to be raised at the Oracle Arena, the NBA's oldest, built in 1966. The Warriors will move to a new arena in San Francisco next season.

"Last year was an unbelievable journey," Curry told the crowd.

"We do all this for you guys. So let's enjoy this all to the fullest."

The Thunder were without star guard Russell Westbrook, who has not been cleared to return after undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery last month.

Paul George led Oklahoma with 27 points while Dennis Schroder added 21 and Steven Adams had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The Thunder trailed by 10 at the break but came out of half-time making nine of 12 shots to lead 69-66 before the Warriors rallied.

"I was really encouraged and pleased with the way we came out in the third quarter," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.

"Last year, at times it was a struggle for us."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2018, with the headline 'Golden state lay down marker'. Print Edition | Subscribe