OAKLAND — On Monday, head coach Steve Kerr implied the Warriors were fried from playing lots of games.
On Tuesday, the Warriors played another game, this one against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who play lots of games, too. Every NBA team plays lots of games. And yet, the Thunder didn’t seem tired Tuesday night. They blew away the Warriors 125-105.
Thunder forward Paul George scored a game-high 38 points and six steals. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook scored 34 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished nine assists. And forward Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 33 points.
The Warriors lacked effort and focus all night. They committed 25 turnovers, gave up 38 points off turnovers and allowed the Thunder to shoot 38.7 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“It didn’t feel like us,” Kerr said. “The ball wasn’t moving. When it was moving, it was generally moving to the wrong team. Another 25-turnover night. We’re out of whack right now. We’re just not playing the way we normally do in terms of ball movement, pace and spacing. Defense has not been good either. It has been a struggle.”
The Warriors have lost three of their past four games, and four of their past eight. They also have lost both times they’ve faced the Thunder this season. The Thunder beat them 108-91 in Oklahoma City on November 23.
“They’re a very good defensive team,” Kerr said. “They’ve got a lot of size and length. If you try to go through them one on one, you’re not going to have a lot of success. Seemed like that’s what we were trying to do.”
Coming into the game, the Thunder had lost four in a row since their starting shooting guard, Andre Roberson, ruptured his Patella tendon on Jan. 28. They had an eight-game winning streak before he went down.
The Warriors came into the game struggling as well.
One theme of their shaky stretch has been slow starts. In their past eight games, the Warriors have trailed at the end of the first quarter five times.
“Just don’t have enough talent in the starting lineup,” Kerr joked before the game. “I’d like to add a fifth All Star to the starting lineup to help us get off to quicker starts.
“This year, it has been a common theme that we’ve just eased into some games. We generally stretch leads in the third and have taken over games in that quarter. But I think there’s probably something to the idea that we’re easing into games just like we’ve sort of eased into the season. It’s a microcosm of the big picture.”
Kerr can joke all he wants about needing a fifth All Star. Obviously, talent isn’t his team’s issue. Here’s the issue: The Warriors are playing no defense, playing tired and limping into the All Star break.
They limped into Tuesday night’s game, too. The Thunder did not, even though forward Carmelo Anthony sprained his right ankle six minutes into the game and did not return.
During the first quarter, the Thunder shot 62.1 percent from the field. Westbrook scored 21 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished three assists, and the Thunder outscored the Warriors 42-30.
“That was the game right there,” Durant said.
Durant was the only player on the Warriors who didn’t struggle early. He scored 17 points on seven shots in the first quarter against his former team.
When the second quarter started, the Thunder immediately increased their lead to 15 points as George made a layup, drew a foul and made the free throw.
On the Thunder’s next possession, Warriors backup center David West fouled Jerami Grant. Kerr jumped from his seat on the bench and yelled at the official who called the foul — Lauren Holtkamp. She gave Kerr a technical foul.
With 6:23 left in the second quarter, West picked up a technical foul — the Warriors’ second of the quarter. George made the free throw and the Thunder took a 20-point lead.
Just before halftime, Green picked up a technical foul — the Warriors’ third of the quarter. He yelled at Holtkamp because she didn’t call a foul when he got hit in the mouth earlier in the second quarter. She almost ejected him. Green would pick up his second technical foul and get ejected during the fourth quarter.
At halftime, the Warriors trailed 70-57.
They gave up 36 points in the paint during the first half, and their ball-handling and passing were awful. They committed 12 turnovers before halftime. They were averaging 15.8 turnovers per game before Tuesday night.
When the third quarter started, the Warriors trailed by 13 points. They were still in the game. The third quarter usually is the time the Warriors wake up and play hard, as Kerr said before the game.
But the Warriors didn’t wake up and play hard in the third quarter Tuesday night. They rolled over, and the Thunder put them away. Outscored them 29-20 during that period and led 99-77 when the fourth quarter began.
“I was hoping that coming home would help us get some energy and refocus,” Kerr said. “Obviously, that wasn’t the case.”