(Photo credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)
Oklahoma City Thunder will catch the Golden State Warriors without Draymond Green and possibly without Stephen Curry when the clubs duel in an early-season rematch Thursday night in San Francisco.
Green on Wednesday was suspended for five games for his aggressive role in pulling Minnesota's RudyGobert away from a Klay Thompson-Jaden McDaniels scuffle early in the Timberwolves' 104-101 win on Tuesday.
Green, Thompson and McDaniels were ejected just 1:43 into the contest.
The Warriors already were without Curry, who complained of a sore right knee that required an MRI exam. Golden State reported no damage, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, while acknowledging his star could miss a couple of games, was happy to label Curry day-to-day.
The Thunder were without star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when the Warriors stole a 141-139 road win on Nov. 3. Curry was the hero of the night, getting a buzzer-beating layup up and over Chet Holmgren to cap a 30-point performance.
The Warriors outrebounded the hosts 38-32 in the win, with Green gathering in five to go with 15 points and three assists.
Gilgeous-Alexander returned from a sprained left knee in Oklahoma City's next game, and the Thunder have won four of five since. The All-Star put up an average of 33.8 points in those contests.
His lowest output of the five came in Oklahoma City's most recent outing, a 123-87 home romp over the San Antonio Spurs in a made-for-TV affair between young big men Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama. With 28 points, Gilgeous-Alexander outscored the two of them combined (Holmgren had nine, Wembanyama eight).
In the earlier loss to Golden State, Holmgren -- the No. 2 overall pick out of Gonzaga in 2022 -- scored a season-best 24 points to complement eight rebounds and five assists.
Another West Coast Conference alumnus, Golden State rookie Brandin Podziemski, had totaled 20 points on the season before taking advantage of playing a season-high 39 minutes, scoring 23 points on Tuesday against the Timberwolves.
The Santa Clara product also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out a season-best five assists, giving Kerr something positive to talk about afterward despite his team taking a fourth straight loss.
"He was incredible tonight," Kerr said. "There's something unique about him at that size to rebound the way he does. He's fearless, and he connects the game. He plays the way we want to play. He's a darn good player, so he's going to play."
If Podziemski matches up with Gilgeous-Alexander, chances are the rookie will learn something others in the league have experienced this season: The former Kentucky standout is as determined these days to be a star on defense the same way he is on offense.
"My first couple years in the NBA, guys used to target me defensively, and just as a competitor, that didn't sit well with me," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "I just didn't like that feeling, so I kind of took that personally and tried to change the narrative."
Gilgeous-Alexander gathered a career-best seven steals against the Spurs. Four of his teammates had two apiece as the Thunder ran up 19 steals, nine more than in any previous game this season.
--Field Level Media