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Warriors Overcome Early Deficit to Silence Thunder

Golden State erased an 11-point first half deficit to down the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-98.

OKLAHOMA CITY — As severe weather blanketed the metro area on Tuesday night, a different kind of storm began to brew inside the Paycom Center.

The young Oklahoma City Thunder continued to build into the NBA season, blanketing the Golden State Warriors with a first-half flurry. But Stephen Curry’s Warriors righted the ship, overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit to win 106-98.

Missing veteran big Derrick Favors, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was inserted into the starting lineup, and he helped fuel a 16-6 run to start the game, setting the stage for the best half of basketball the Thunder have played all season.

“He’s been unbelievably professional,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said of Robinson-Earl after the game. “… We thought he earned the opportunity to go out there.”

Robinson-Earl tallied seven first quarter points, working the ball inside and stepping outside the paint to drain an early 3-pointer.

The big man’s early success helped open up the floor for point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to attack the basket.

Gilgeous-Alexander carried his momentum from the second half against Philadelphia to put in his most complete performance of the season.

Oklahoma City’s 172-million-dollar man led the team with 30 points, adding a rebound and four assists.

“He was himself again tonight, especially first half,” Daigneault said. “He was a handful tonight.”

The fast scoring start by the Thunder made way to an improved defensive performance, as OKC held the explosive Warriors offense to just 19 points in the second quarter.

Lu Dort was especially great on Curry, as he stayed in the former MVP’s back pocket all night to make life difficult.

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“I thought Lu did a great job on Curry,” Daigneault said. “A lot of teams throw two guys at him, but not a lot of teams have Lu Dort.”

But down the stretch in the third quarter, the former champions came alive.

Spurred by a 17-2 run to close the third period, the Warriors dominated the proceedings late, outscoring OKC 58-39 in the second half.

Despite the loss, Tuesday night’s performance was still the most encouraging of the season.

The offense appeared to flow effortlessly at times for OKC, especially early in the game. Josh Giddey looked even more comfortable playing alongside Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dort’s offensive game opened up to pair with his always elite defense.

Giddey finished with seven points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Dort added 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Robinson-Earl completed his nice outing with 12 points, five rebounds and an assist.

The remaining Thunder fans serenaded the young squad with a standing ovation after the game, recognizing the improving performances from their new core.

Daigneault said he was glad the fans took to the performance, as the team strives to represent the city with a blue-collar work ethic on the court.

“Embracing the completion is something that resonates with (the team),” Daigneault said.

Oklahoma City won’t have to wait too long to get back out onto the court, as they host LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow night at 7 p.m. inside the Paycom Center. 

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