OAKLAND — About seven hours before the tipoff of the Golden State Warriors’ resounding 125-105 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, Russell Westbrook produced a moment that only Russell Westbrook could.
Asked after shootaround about how he approaches the meeting with Golden State, Westbrook made a reporter answer his own question.
“What’s my answer?”
Last year’s MVP repeated the question several times before the reporter finally said that Westbrook treats every game the same. Then Westbrook walked off.
For a guy who views the matchup with the Warriors and his erstwhile co-star Kevin Durant as just another night at the office, Wesbrook sure relishes an opportunity to take it to the reigning champs.
Just like Westbrook did on Nov. 22, when he finished an assist shy of a triple-double in a 108-91 rout — one of the Warriors’ ugliest losses of the season — the All-Star guard brought his A-game in Round II.
Westbrook poured in 34 points, grabbed nine rebounds and threw nine assists. That stat line means Westbrook has averaged 34 points, 9.5 rebound and nine assists in his two contests against the Warriors.
Both meetings have been lopsided. Oklahoma City is plus-37 halfway through the season series. The Warriors are now 1-4 against the Thunder and the Houston Rockets, potentially two of their most dangerous opponents in the Western Conference playoffs. The club is stumbling toward the All-Star break, losers of three of four.
Fans began filing toward the exits with more than eight minutes on the clock — around the same time Draymond Green earned his second technical and took his leave for the locker room. The Warriors amassed five techs as a group. As Green made his way off the court, Westbrook leaped off the Thunder bench and proceeded to shout and clap.
As was the case at Chesapeake Energy Arena back in November, the most glaring issue was the lackadaisical start, which allowed Wesbrook to carve through the Warriors’ porous defense like a rolling ball of butcher knives.
Westbrook is persona non grata at Oracle Arena. He’s the most unpopular opponent this side of LeBron James. The crowd serenaded him with boos during pregame introductions — then again the first time he touched the ball.
Westbrook didn’t waste any time hitting his top gear, gashing the Warriors for 21 points (9-for-11 from the field) in the opening quarter.
“Russ set the tone for us — especially offensively — getting going, being as aggressive as he was out of the gate,” Carmelo Anthony said.
The Thunder blitzed the Warriors for 42 points in the first quarter and 70 in the first half.
“It was just one of them nights where we followed what he was able to bring out there, what he was able to establish,” Anthony added.
For the second time in as many meetings with the Thunder, the Warriors were far too careless with the ball, racking up 25 turnovers after giving the ball away 22 times back in November in Oklahoma City.
“It’s a focus thing and it seems like our starters have been the culprits, the main culprits,” head coach Steve Kerr said.
The starting five accounted for 17 of the 25 on Tuesday night.
“Our starters are almost pressing too hard and trying to make too many plays,” Kerr said. “We’ll look at the tape and see what it looks like, but I think we’re just not playing like ourselves which is making five, six easy passes in a possession instead of one spectacular.”
The Warriors didn’t look like themselves and didn’t bring the requisite energy to handle Westbrook and the Thunder.
“Our focus [was the biggest key],” Anthony said. “I thought our effort and our energy on both ends of the court [too]. I thought tonight we outworked them.”