Golden State’s Steph Curry sizes up Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook during Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. (Photo by Torry Purvey).
By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY — Steph Curry is the reigning 2-time MVP and often described as a transformative player who has changed the way basketball is played in the NBA. However, when Golden State is at their best, it’s usually when the other Splash Brother is on his game.
Luckily for the Warriors, Klay Thompson was just that when they took on Oklahoma City in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Thomson scored a game-high 41 points to lead the Warriors to a 108-101 victory Saturday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to hold off elimination of the defending champions.
“It was about time we had a stretch in the building in which we impose our will,” Thompson said. “I’m so proud of everybody. We were down almost the whole game and we never gave up. Our resiliency paid off in the end. We knew if we didn’t get it done we were going home. So it was a big win.”
Thompson hit 11 of 18 from 3-point range to set a new NBA playoff record. Steph Curry scored 29 to go along with 10 rebounds and nine assists. Draymond Green scored 14 points, grabbed 12 boards and had three steals.
Kevin Durant scored led the Thunder with 29 points on 10 of 31 shooting. Russell Westbrook posted 28 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Serge Ibaka added 13 points and nine rebounds.
For the second consecutive game, Durant scored a lot of points, but was far from efficient.
“I just didn’t feel like at times collectively as a group, just with the execution part of it, that we helped
him from screening angles and things like that,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “Sometimes I think for Kevin, with as much as he gets– I’m not using this as an excuse – but grabbed and held… sometimes putting your head down and driving and creating is almost like the next best thing.”
The series is tied at 3-3 with Game 7 taking place Monday in Oakland, Calif.
Westbrook put the Thunder up 93-87 with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter. After the Thunder forced a stop, Steven Adams made 1 of 2 from the free-throw line.
Thompson drove the lane for a layup to slice lead to 94-89. But Durant responded with a jumper.
Thompson drained his 10th 3-pointer of the night. After Oklahoma City’s Andre Roberson made 1 of 2 from the line, the Thunder led 97-92 with 4:32 left.
Curry with a 3-pointer brought the Warriors to within 1 at 97-96. But Westbrook went to the free throw line and buried a pair to push lead back to three with 3:42 on the clock.
Durant was forced into a turnover and it led to Curry’s game-tying 3-pointer making the score 99-all. Roberson and Andre Iguodala traded baskets before Thompson banged in another 3-pointer to put the Warriors ahead 104-101.
Thompson missed a 3-point attempt and Durant got the rebound. But he turned the ball over and Curry made the Thunder pay with a layup to put the game away.
When it was all said and done, Curry ran around the court holding up seven fingers to signify the upcoming Game 7.
“It’s going to be fun,” Curry said. “I know I said this game was probably the hardest of our lives, but now that we’ve got this under our belt, we can’t just assume because we’re going home and it’s Game 7, that we can show up. We have to bring that same energy, same focus, activity that we had tonight. Take care of business at home.”
The Thunder made 22 of 32 from the foul line while the Warriors hit 21 of 44 from behind the arc.
“We’ve got another game to play,” Durant said. “We’re excited about that. We get another opportunity. And we can’t hang our heads. We’ve got another game to play, so it’s pretty high right now.”
Green showed early on that he was out of the funk that had plagued him the first four games of the series. He tallied six points, four rebounds and two assists in the first quarter alone.
But that didn’t seem to affect the Thunder. Even with Durant shooting a low percentage, they were able to go ahead by 13 in the second quarter.
Much of that was built on the play of the Oklahoma City big men.
Enes Kanter came off the bench to produce offensive while Adams was effective on both ends. That included throwing down a dunk over Green that had the Thunder bench falling over themselves celebrating.
If not for Thompson, the Warriors could have found them in trouble. He shot 4 of 8 from 3-point range as Golden State only tailed 53-48.
“I ain’t start off the game right and I knew we’re not going to go far if I’m not being aggressive and open up the floor for everybody,” Thompson said. “So I just used my teammates, being patient, never letting my confidence waver. Because I’m ineffective when I’m not out there hitting my shot.”
Michael Kinney is a freelance writer and can be reached at Eyeamtruth@gmail.com