OKLAHOMA CITY — Finally, Thunder fans have something to cheer about.
Dennis Schroder scored 22 points to help Oklahoma City rout the Golden State Warriors 120-92 on Sunday for their first victory of the season.
It was a long-awaited ray of hope for fans who have been looking for something to cling to after the Thunder traded away longtime star Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul in the offseason. The blowout matched Oklahoma City’s largest margin of victory over the Warriors since the franchise moved from Seattle before the 2008-09 season.
The fact that the breakthrough came against the Warriors didn’t mean much to Paul.
“I think it was more about us, not about them,” he said. “We’ve got to have an identity. How we are going to play defensively and offensively? Pushing the pace, moving the ball and playing with the right spirit.”
Now, Paul and Westbrook will face off Monday night in Houston. Paul said it might be a bit awkward, but he won’t make a big deal about it.
“It’ll be my first time back there since I got traded so you know, it’s another game,” he said. “Move on. See a couple familiar faces say what up to my man the equipment manager. Keep it pushing.”
The Warriors still have a lot to figure out. Stephen Curry scored 23 points on Sunday, making 7 of 18 shots while his teammates made just 23 of 74. Golden State was coming off a season-opening home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kevin Durant left the Warriors for Brooklyn in the offseason and Klay Thompson is likely out for the season with a torn left ACL. Still, Golden State expected to be more competitive early in the season.
“It sucks,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “But I guess just about everybody except Tim Duncan has been through it. But it sucks pretty bad.”
Oklahoma City roared out to a 70-37 halftime lead. The Thunder shot 56.5% before the break while holding the Warriors to 27.5%. Schroder had 16 points and six rebounds in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Danilo Gallinari put the Thunder ahead 95-56 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter and forced a Warriors timeout. Oklahoma City led 105-68 heading into the final period.
Gallinari scored 21 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder.
The Warriors allowed the Thunder to shoot 56% from the field after allowing the Clippers to shoot 63%.
“Everybody loved our offense, but it wasn’t our offense that was making us great,” Green said. “It was our defense. I’ve said that for years. Our defense right now is nonexistent. I don’t even think we know what defense is right now.”
Warriors: C Kevon Looney sat out with a neuropathic condition in his right hamstring. … The Warriors had 12 turnovers in the first half. … Curry was called for a technical foul in the third quarter after hitting Thunder G Terrance Ferguson in the crotch area. … D’Angelo Russell was ejected in the third quarter for arguing with an official. He finished with six points on 3 for 10 shooting.
Thunder: G/F Andre Roberson remains out as the team manages his return from a left knee injury that has kept him out the past 1 1/2 years. … C Steven Adams made 4 of 8 shots after going 4 for 17 his first two games.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan on having to coach against Westbrook on Monday: “He was always a great guy to coach. The one thing I always admired and respected — and I told him this — that I never took for granted that he came ready to play and give his all every night.”
IT’S A NEW DAY
Green on how things have changed: “I didn’t have a feeling that it would be like this. You kind of figured (expletive) won’t be the same, but I didn’t think we’d be getting our (expletive) kicked like this. It’s pretty bad.”
Paul said he might take advantage of the opportunity and check on his Houston-area house that is up for sale.
Thunder G Terrance Ferguson made his first field goal of the season in the first quarter. He entered the day 0 for 4 in two games and 46 minutes of action. He finished this game with 13 points on 5 for 7 shooting.
Warriors: At New Orleans on Monday night.
Thunder: At Houston on Monday night.