Cut to the Chase (Thunder at Warriors; 04.04.23)

Chris Tuite/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

SAN FRANCISCO — Soon after his team’s latest disappointing loss away from the fortress that is the Chase Center, Stephen Curry sounded the alarm about the urgency of the Golden State Warriors’ last three games of the season, saying that his team needed to win out and build a good rhythm heading into the postseason.

That message clearly fell on deaf ears in the first 24 minutes on Tuesday evening. Whatever message that was said at halftime, if any, finally did the trick, and allowed the Warriors to pull out a victory they needed to have as they position themselves to finally securing a playoff berth.

Curry scored 24 of his 34 points in the first half to keep Golden State close before the Warriors put the clamps on defensively, particularly in the fourth quarter, as the Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 136-125 in the Chase Center’s regular season finale of 2023. Jordan Poole played the role of closer, scoring 18 fourth-quarter points on his way to a 30-point outing on a night where Klay Thompson was a late scratch due to low back tightness.

The victory moves the Warriors to fifth place int he Western Conference standings, though it will fall to sixth upon the completion of the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow night. Winning their last two games, however, will ensure that the Warriors will finish in the top six and avoid the play-in tournament.

Golden State was coming off a road defeat in Denver where Curry went 2-of-14 from deep, and even his return to the form everyone is used to from him could not keep the Warriors from leaking an alarming 79 points in the first half tonight, with the Thunder shooting 60 percent from the field in the half.

The second half saw Curry go cold but the rest of the term get hot, as the Warriors’ penchant for second-half comebacks once again came to the fore in the nick of time. Poole’s two free throws at the 8:29 mark of the fourth gave the Warriors their first lead of the game at 108-106. Those two free throws came toward the beginning of a stretch when Poole scored 10 consecutive points for the Warriors, and later in the quarter, his third three-pointer of the game gave Golden State an 11-point lead at 131-120 and give the Warriors breathing room.

The crowd also got a chance to see Andrew Wiggins before the end of the regular season, who has missed the last 23 games as he has been away from the clue due to a family matter. He received a round of applause from the Chase Center crowd, and he sat just behind the Warriors bench to take in the contest.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points to lead the Thunder, who shot just 3-of-18 from beyond the arc in the second half after nailing eight of their 14 shots from deep in the first half. Oklahoma City is a half-game up on Dallas for the final play-in tournament spot, though it owns the tiebreaker against the Mavericks should the teams finish tied.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Bay Area-based photographer Chris Tuite. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 68 pictures in total.

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