OKLAHOMA CITY — Coming into the game, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks knew his team had to find a way to control the Golden State Warriors’ backcourt. The duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have torched teams all season.
However, what Brooks could not have accounted for was forward Marreese Speights. The reserve forward came off the bench to score a season-high 28 points and lead the Warriors to a 91-86 victory over the Thunder Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Speights said. “With all the work I put in over the summer, it’s all paying off now.”
The win pushed the Warriors’ record to 10-2 on the season, despite shooting a season-low 35.5 percent from the field and 28 percent from behind the arc.
“It’s the best win of the year,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “It was the ugliest game, but the best win. Our team just gutted it out.”
Despite the explosion by swingman Speights, Oklahoma City only trailed 83-79 with 4:22 left after forward Serge Ibaka scored four straight points.
Warriors forward Draymond Green put back a missed Curry shot to push the lead to six. But with 2:58 on the clock, Thunder forward Anthony Morrow knocked down a 3-pointer to bring his team within three.
The Warriors got a defensive stop when they deflected a shot from Ibaka. Swingman Andre Iguodala was fouled on the break while making a layup, but he missed the free throw and the Warriors led by six.
Thunder guard Reggie Jackson drove to the basket for an easy layup with 1:25 left. Ibaka then blocked forward Harrison Barnes’ shot, and it led to a put-back dunk by Ibaka on the other end. However, the basket was wiped away due to basket interference.
Leading 88-84, Curry took a 3-pointer with Ibaka in his face. It was off the mark and the Thunder (3-12) got the rebound. Instead of setting up a play, Jackson threw up a long-distance 3-pointer that bounced off the rim. But the Thunder got the rebound and called a timeout.
Morrow missed a 3-pointer, but he dunked the rebound to bring Oklahoma City within two at 88-86 with 17.9 seconds left in game.
Curry was fouled and he made one of two from the free throw line to give Golden State an 89-86 lead.
Jackson drove to the lane and passed to a wide-open Andre Roberson. However, the second-year forward threw up an airball on a 3-point attempt, and the Warriors got the rebound to close out the night.
“The thing that I love about him, he stepped up and took the shot,” Brooks said. “He didn’t freeze up.”
Jackson paced the Thunder with 22 points on 10-of-26 shooting. He also pulled down 11 rebounds. Ibaka and Morrow each scored 16 points in the loss.
Thompson posted 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Golden State. Curry added 15 points and six assists.
“Just try to find whatever it takes to get a win,” Curry said. “That’s what we did tonight. Obviously Mo Speights played amazing the whole game.”
Curry didn’t take long to get his shot going, scoring 12 of his team’s 28 first-quarter points. But he was also a willing passer. He racked up three assists as the Warriors led by eight heading into the second quarter.
The Thunder got a handle on Curry the rest of the game, but they allowed Speights to get going. He said he was inspired by the Oklahoma City bench and one player in particular.
“It’s just (Kendrick) Perkins,” Speights said. “He always has something to say. He thinks he’s a tough guy. But then his game is terrible. He always got something to say to me every time we play. It always gets me going. He made me get this good game.”
NOTES: G Russell Westbrook and F Kevin Durant participated in practice Saturday with the rest of their Oklahoma City teammates for the first time since each went down with injuries. The duo took part in select portions of non-contact drills. Each came back Sunday and had a vigorous individual shoot-around before the game against Golden State. “They looked good,” coach Scott Brooks. “They’ve been with the group the whole time, but (Saturday) was the first day they’ve actually participated in some of the drills. It wasn’t the entire practice.” … Warriors coach Steve Kerr said G Andre Iguodala has adapted to his reserve role well. “It was kind of expected because he’s been so good in practice,” Kerr said. “I think it’s just been an adjustment to come off the bench. That’s not an easy thing to do, especially for a guy like Andre who has never come off the bench.”
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