NBA

Oklahoma City Thunder win could signal start of run toward playoffs

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It is coming. Any NBA fan can sense that. But Friday night's 127-115 win over the Golden State Warriors, the NBA's best team, could have signalled the beginning of Oklahoma City's run to the playoffs.

They're healthy, they're scoring in bunches and they might be close to getting better if they can unload Kendrick Perkins for a more worthwhile asset.

They still are not totally there, the month of January is a testament to that with a 3-3 record, but Friday's win was big for a lot of reasons.

Mainly, they can still beat anyone and really are that talented of a team.

They are now 19-20 and tied with New Orleans 3 ½ games behind Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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Who did it?

It really was the usual suspects, only playing together and healthy.

The eye-popping stat line from Friday night was Russell Westbrook's 17 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds. He's had a triple-double nine times in his career, but this was the first of the season.

That included six rebounds and eight assists in the final period.

'I don't want to downplay his performance, but Russ can do that whenever,'' Kevin Durant said. ''He doesn't really get too excited over great games because he has so many of them. It was a tremendous game, I think, as far as controlling it, playing defense, rebounding.''

Durant led the way scoring with 36 points and nine rebounds.

''I think that's what I was put on this Earth to do is to score,'' Durant said afterward. ''I can do everything in the game. I feel like I can play defense, I can rebound, I can pass, but what I do is score. Sometimes, you've got to remind people what you do.''

Who else?

The Thunder's win ended the Warriors' eight-game winning streak, partially because of a career-high effort from Serge Ibaka, who has really come into his own at the center spot.

He scored 27 points and was 12 of 18 shooting.

Recent acquisition Dion Waiters added 21 for a Thunder team that had lost three of four coming in.

How about that defense?

While the Thunder scored in droves and made better than 52 percent of their shots, they also prevented the Warriors' hot hands from making a dent in the lead.

Klay Thompson shot 12 of 22, Stephen Curry was 6 of 13 and the Warriors made 45 percent of their shots.

For a normal team, that's not bad. But the Warriors can have crazy scoring nights to stay in a game like Friday's and that simply didn't happen.

''They're great in this building,'' Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ''They have one of the best home records the last five years here. It's always tough to play here. I'm not disappointed with our effort tonight, but our focus just wasn't what it was these last eight games when we were winning.''

Topics:
Golden State Warriors
Pacific Division
Western Conference
NBA
Oklahoma City Thunder
Northwest Division

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