OAKLAND, Calif. -- Leaning deep into the left corner, Nick Young let a 3 fly as the buzzer sounded on the third quarter, holding his pose and then breaking out a shimmy right in front of the Oklahoma City Thunder bench as the ball splashed through the net.
Russell Westbrook popped up to give Young a shove for the showboating, but much like the game for the Thunder, it was too late.
The bucket punctuated a 14-0 run for the Warriors to finish the last 3:54 of the third, breaking open what had been a back-and-forth rock fight with the Thunder, and it carried Golden State to a soft landing in a 112-80 win. After two previous blowouts losses to the Thunder -- one in Oklahoma City and one in Oakland -- the Warriors cleansed themselves by getting back to some basics, namely making lots of 3s and riding the wave of momentum.
Westbrook believes Pachulia is a dirty player
Russell Westbrook has no doubt Zaza Pachulia's foul was intentional when he fell on Westbrook's leg.
It was all a long time coming for the Thunder, who opened the game hitting 6 of 28 (21.4 percent) field goals in the first quarter. They stayed in the contest with some stingy defense and dominant rebounding, and OKC actually led 59-56 with 7:52 left in the third. But with Paul George shooting 1-of-14, Westbrook going 4-of-15 and Carmelo Anthony 6-of-17 -- that's 11-of-46 (23.9 percent) for 34 points combined -- eventually the whole not-making-shots thing caught up to the Thunder.
George, who has torched the Warriors this season, didn't hit his first shot until midway through the third after missing his opening nine attempts. No amount of rebounding and defense can keep you close to the Warriors when you shoot like that; the Thunder finished with a 33.0 field goal percentage.
And while plenty of that had to do with a clearly renewed defensive disposition for the Warriors, a lot of it came on clean, rhythm looks from the Thunder -- such as when George air-balled a first quarter 3 as he stood alone and uncontested on the wing, and when Westbrook came up short to the point of almost air-balling on a driving lefty layup later in the quarter.
"It happens like that," Westbrook said. "Put ourselves in positions to win games and couldn't make shots when we needed to. But I'm definitely not worried one bit."
Even with the injury to Andre Roberson, the Thunder, maybe more than any other team, have developed a scheme to disrupt the Warriors' offense. The Thunder use their length, size and activity to take away a lot of the Warriors' passing and moving by trapping on pick-and-rolls and forcing turnovers.
But Golden State coach Steve Kerr is obviously a savvy tactician himself, and an adjustment the Warriors made was to use the Thunder's tendency to overplay -- especially that of George -- against them with more back cutting off the wings. It unlocked many of the features for the Warriors, getting them into those 4-on-3 situations in which a drive leads to a pass that leads to another pass that leads to a wide-open shot.
It wouldn't be Thunder-Warriors without some emotional activity, though. It started with Anthony and Kevin Durant having words after Anthony gave Durant a shove. Interestingly, Westbrook was the player farthest away from the scuffle, standing a good 20 feet away and bent over with his hands on his knees as Durant and Anthony had to be separated. The altercation resulted in double technical fouls for Durant and Anthony.
Anthony scuffled again later, this time with Draymond Green. Green caught Anthony in the face after a foul call, making Anthony so heated that he ripped off his headband and spiked it onto the floor before doing some extended chatting with Green and other Warriors.
"I just told him congratulations on what he was doing back in PG County, with the kids," Anthony joked when asked about the Durant incident, referring to Durant's $10 million donation to and partnership with Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland. "That's it."
That led to a run-in between Westbrook and Zaza Pachulia late in the third, when Pachulia fell onto Westbrook's leg under the basket, an act Westbrook deemed intentional.
"Obviously, it was intentional," Westbrook said. "So don't ask me if it was intentional. Nobody touched him, he fell on my leg, tried to hurt me. But hey, that's how it goes."
It was all frustrating for the Thunder, with George picking up his own technical foul early in the fourth, before he joined the other starters on the bench to watch as Young and Pachulia cleaned up in garbage time.
There have been three Thunder-Warriors games this season, and all three have finished with stars watching from the sideline. There have been several reasons for that, on both sides, but in this case, it was the power and proficiency of the Warriors in capitalizing on a miserable night for the Thunder. Durant (28 points on 10 of 20 shooting) is a problem for anyone, and when the Thunder were hanging around, he kept popping shots on curling 3s. Stephen Curry eventually joined in (21 points, 5-of-12 from 3), setting the stage for Young to dance on the Thunder.
"We just didn't want to lose," Durant said. "We know we can get beat by this team, obviously, if we don't come and play with force. We did that on both ends of the court."
There's one more of these to go -- April 3 in Oklahoma City -- and maybe it will be the one that features some big names on the floor at the finish line. The Thunder have held their heads high this season by beating good teams, but like their uncharacteristically poor shooting on Saturday, perhaps that eventually was going to catch up to them.