Curry scored 23 points and the Golden State Warriors remained undefeated, but they had to rally in the second half to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-98 on Tuesday night.
Kerr said he couldn’t rest his star guard as much as he wanted because the Thunder were too competitive. Oklahoma City led by 11 points at halftime and by 12 midway through the third quarter before Golden State began chipping away.
»We knew we were going to take him out mid-first, buy him a few minutes, hopefully do the same in the third, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that,» Kerr said. »We were still climbing uphill a little bit.»
A 3-pointer by Otto Porter Jr. put the Warriors ahead for the first time, 78-76, with a minute left in the third. The Warriors took an 81-76 edge into the fourth. The Thunder cut their deficit to four at one point in the final period, but the Warriors went on a 9-3 run to go up 10 with just over three minutes to play.
Curry made 6 of 14 shots in just over 32 minutes and never really got comfortable with Oklahoma City’s Lu Dort defending him.
»I thought Lu did a great job on Curry,» Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. »A lot of teams throw two guys at him, but a lot of teams don’t have Lu Dort. We challenged him to take that on tonight and he did an unbelievable job. That guy (Curry) earned everything he got.»
Andrew Wiggins had 21 points and Damion Lee scored 20 for the Warriors, who have opened the season with four straight wins.
Kerr warned his team that the Thunder might present a challenge.
»We talked to the team in our meeting today at the hotel about exactly what to expect,» he said. »This is a team that came in 0-3, they played Philly pretty tough in the fourth quarter (on Sunday) and the crowd was into it. They’re NBA players. They’re all great players or they wouldn’t be in the league.»
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City scored the first seven points of the game and led 34-29 at the end of the first quarter – the first time Oklahoma City took a lead into the second period this season.
The Warriors rallied late in the second quarter. Curry hit a 3-pointer, then Draymond Green made a three to cut Oklahoma City’s lead to four.
That’s when Gilgeous-Alexander took over. He passed to Dort for a dunk, made a floater, then converted a three-point play. He followed that with an assist to Jeremiah Robinson-Earl for a dunk to complete a 9-0 run that pushed the Thunder’s lead to 13. Oklahoma City led 59-48 at halftime.
The Thunder played a strong second half in their loss to Philadelphia and a strong first half against Golden State.
»We’ve got to play a full 48 if we want to get a W, for sure,» Gilgeous-Alexander said.
Warriors: Shot 39% in the first half but shot 61% in the third quarter and held the Thunder to 26% shooting. … Green had eight points, eight assists and nine rebounds. … Curry connected on a four-point play, the 38th of his career, in the first quarter. … Green played his 643rd game or the Warriors, passing Rick Barry for seventh on the franchise list.
Thunder: Robinson-Earl got his first career start in place of Derrick Favors (rest). He finished with 12 points and five rebounds. … Dort scored 11 points.
Kerr on the Thunder: »They’re a young team and it’s going to be a struggle for them for sure. It’s just where they are as a franchise. But they’re going to be capable of beating anybody on a given night and we kind of felt like we were primed for an upset just with the way our respective seasons have started. We expected them to play well and they did.»
Stephen Curry’s younger brother, Seth, scored 28 points on Sunday for Philadelphia against the Thunder.
Warriors: Host the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
Thunder: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
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