When the Golden State Warriors added veteran free agent Andre Iguodala this summer, many proponents of the move cited the fact that the versatile wing would not have to contribute primarily by scoring and taking shots in big moments. For most of his career, Iguodala seemed ill-suited to that top-dog role, instead fitting in much better as an offensive facilitator and lockdown defender. While he has already had one huge scoring game this season, Iguodala has impressed by filling that super-talented glue guy role to perfection. He gives the Warriors several new looks and is a big reason they're a dark-horse pick to win the West this season.
On Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oakland, however, Iguodala filled the role of late-game hero just fine. With 2.3 seconds left on the clock and the Warriors down 115-114, Iguodala took the inbounds pass from Klay Thompson, quickly turned for the jumper, and buried the shot over Thabo Sefolosha's outstretched arm as time expired to give the Warriors their best win of the season so far.
It was an amazing play that arguably wasn't even the best basket of the closing seconds. After the jump, take a look at the 29-foot Russell Westbrook three-pointer that gave the Thunder the lead in the closing seconds.
For a moment, Westbrook's shot capped off what looked like a thrilling and improbable comeback win. After a David Lee lay-up with 6:16 remaining, the Warriors led 108-95 and appeared to be heading to a very impressive win. The Thunder then went on an 11-1 run over the next 2:58 to cut the deficit to 109-106, setting up a decisive final 3:18. While the Warriors tightened up their defense, they continued to struggle to execute offensively and gave the Thunder a chance to win.
Had it stood as the game-winner, Westbrook's brash three-pointer also would have served as a clear reminder to the NBA world that he's among the best offensive players in the league. Although Westbrook has impressed since returning from knee surgery on November 3, this game, nationally televised on TNT, proved that he can still dominate. With 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, and that amazing shot, Westbrook was every bit the mercurial, aggressive superstar we know him to be at his best.
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Iguodala's jumper changed that narrative, of course, but it really just served as the final moment of one of the best games we've seen in this young season. The 62-62 first half showcased two brilliant offensive teams playing at peak form, and the Thunder's comeback ensured that this game would be remembered for more than just 24 severely entertaining minutes. Both teams finished with gaudy shooting numbers (51.4 percent from the field for Oklahoma City, 14-of-23 from deep for Golden State), and the team's offensive talent did not disappoint (27 points apiece for Serge Ibaka and Klay Thompson). Even apart from the unreal final two possessions, this game displayed NBA basketball at its most enjoyable.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Andre Iguodala
- Golden State Warriors
- Russell Westbrook
- Klay Thompson