KD-less Warriors silence Thunder

Golden State centre DeMarcus Cousins going up for a basket as Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook defended during the first half at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday. The Warriors won 110-88.
Golden State centre DeMarcus Cousins going up for a basket as Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook defended during the first half at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday. The Warriors won 110-88.PHOTO: REUTERS

OKLAHOMA CITY • The Golden State Warriors gave the Oklahoma City Thunder fans less to boo about by omitting Kevin Durant to give him more time to nurse an ankle injury.

That raised the hopes of the home fans, who felt their team could capitalise on the absence of the Warriors' second-highest scorer on 27.4 points this season.

However, the two-time defending National Basketball Association champions gave the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd little to cheer about by flexing their other All-Star talent as they secured the season series 2-1.

Golden State coasted to a 110-88 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday, marking the team's second consecutive road win in a nationally televised game against a marquee opponent without Durant.

It was also the Warriors' eighth road win against a team with at least a .600 winning percentage, leading Stephen Curry, who led all scorers with 33 points, to express his delight at how the team "imposed our will".

The guard said: "We did our best to take care of the basketball so they didn't have easy transition opportunities. And we rebounded the ball well. So all things considered, really solid effort, knowing that if you give them momentum in this building, they are tough."

The supporters had been waiting for a chance to barrack Durant, who has never been forgiven for choosing to join the Warriors in free agency after losing in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

But they were denied that opportunity after the forward sat out and, to add insult to injury, Russell Westbrook turned in a shocking display, scoring just seven points on a dismal two-for-16 shooting.

His team shot a season-worst 32 per cent from the field, while making just 13-of-41 from beyond the arc. Their All-Star guard was particularly culpable, missing all seven of his three-point attempts.

But Klay Thompson, who contributed 23 points, felt Westbrook's cold night was the result of the Warriors "preventing him from getting downhill".

Revealing they had targeted Westbrook, the guard said: "Because when he's getting to the rim, attacking, that's when everybody's getting the ball at their best."

Post-game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr disclosed that Durant would "most likely" return for today's game at the San Antonio Spurs.

In Boston, Kyrie Irving finished one assist shy of his second straight triple-double as the Celtics dug deep to beat the Atlanta Hawks 129-120, sweeping the season series 4-0.

The All-Star guard had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to lead the home team to their sixth win in eight games.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2019, with the headline 'KD-less Warriors silence Thunder'. Print Edition | Subscribe