|Warriors seeking payback vs. Thunder|
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors will have rare double-revenge motivation Saturday night when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in a matchup of teams coming off what they hope will be momentum-building wins.
The Warriors used a strong start as the driving force in their 134-127 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night in both teams' first game after the All-Star break.
Ninety miles to the northeast in Sacramento, the Thunder blew a 23-point lead before Russell Westbrook bailed them out with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that produced a 110-107 road win over the Kings.
The Warriors and Thunder will be meeting for the third time this season, with Oklahoma City having won the first two head-to-heads.
No team has beaten Golden State three straight times in the same regular season since Steve Kerr became the coach in 2014.
Only two have had that opportunity, both in the 2016-17 season. But the Warriors avoided three-peats by Memphis and San Antonio with road wins by an average of 13.5 points.
Kerr made a change to his starting lineup, inserting JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia at center for Thursday's game against the Clippers after the Warriors had been having trouble in first quarters.
Despite being third in the NBA in net points at the All-Star break, the Warriors had a negative number in first quarters -- minus-0.4 -- while allowing opponents an NBA-high 30.0 points on 48.8 percent shooting.
Golden State was far better in the first quarter against the Clippers, limiting the visitors to 23 points on 41.7 percent shooting while building an 11-point lead.
"A step in the right direction. We did a lot of good things," Kerr analyzed after the win. "You aren't just going to wave a magic wand and be on top of our game again, but I liked our start."
Golden State fell behind Oklahoma City in the first quarter in both of their previous matchups. The Thunder went up 33-26 after one en route to a 108-91 home win in November, and 42-30 in a 125-105 road romp earlier this month.
The first quarter was the least of the Thunder's problems in Thursday's tougher-than-it-needed-to-be win at Sacramento. Oklahoma City blew out to a 44-21 lead through 12 minutes.
But the Thunder fell behind by three points late in the fourth quarter, then needed sturdy defense and Westbrook's heroics to escape with a win in the first stop on a three-day, two-game California swing.
Like the Warriors, who entered the break having lost four of nine, their worst stretch of the season, the Thunder flew to California hoping to get things in high gear headed toward a postseason that is now just 22 games away.
"We want to be playing our best basketball now," Oklahoma City All-Star forward Paul George said. "It's about winning and streaking these games together."
Westbrook got the better of former teammate Kevin Durant in both earlier wins against Golden State with nearly identical outings.
He had 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the home win, and 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the road victory.
Durant, meanwhile, countered with 21 points in his Oklahoma City homecoming before pouring in 33 points in the rematch.