It’s not clear if the Thunder have been fortunate or less than fortunate thus far this season.
What is clear, however, as two home games loom against Charlotte and Denver tonight and Saturday, is the Thunder are playing very well and, on the health front, it could certainly be worse.
Wednesday, on the road, Oklahoma City downed Steph Curry-less Golden State 123-95 to make it 11 of 13 victories since beginning the season 0-4, putting itself in position to get to 15-6 before going out on the road again.
After Charlotte (9-8) and Denver (11-7), it’s Cleveland (2-14) at Chesapeake Energy Arena Nov. 29 and Atlanta (3-15) on Nov. 30.
Oklahoma City could be without Hamidou Diallo for all four of those games, yet much worse was feared when Diallo went down with an ugly-looking ankle injury against the Warriors and had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. Nevertheless, before returning home, Warriors’ medical personnel, who treated Diallo inside Oracle Arena, had ruled out all major lower body injuries — bone breaks and ligament tears — and judged the injury to be a sprain.
On Thursday, the Thunder announced Diallo would be reevaluated in 7 to 10 days.
It is the same diagnosis Russell Westbrook received after going down the ninth game of the season against New Orleans and missing the next six games, covering a span of almost two weeks.
Wednesday, in his second game back, Westbrook recorded his first double-double of the season. He made just 5 of 15 shots and finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.
The biggest star from Wednesday night, however, wasn’t even in the starting five. Dennis Schroder, who has started several games this season in Westbrook’s absence, came off the bench against the Warriors to score 32 points, despite playing just 28 minutes.
Schroder got those points on only 19 attempts from the floor, making 12, including all three of his 3-point attempts and all three of his free-throw chances.
After Schroder, Paul George added 25 points on 10 of 23 shooting and nine rebounds and Steven Adams finished with 20 on 9 of 14 shooting with 11 rebounds.
“Just making the right play, simple as that,” Westbrook told okcthunder.com about what OKC did right. “Being able to find open guys and get them in scoring position. You never know who’s going to do it. It opens the floor for everybody and that’s a good way to attack.”
The Thunder also out rebounded the Warriors 61 to 42 and received 17 turnovers while giving it back just 10 times.
Despite opening with four losses, Oklahoma City is nonetheless tied for third place in the Western Conference standings alongside the Los Angeles Clippers (11-6) and behind surprising Memphis (12-5) and Portland (12-6).
The two teams that figured to be atop the conference, Golden State (12-7) and Houston (9-7), are in fifth and eighth place.
Beginning tonight, OKC can make another move forward.