The Golden State Warriors entered their Sunday matchup with the Washington Wizards fresh off a thrilling game-winning buzzer-beater by Andre Iguodala, having won eight straight games (including an impressive road victory over the two-time-defending-champion Miami Heat) and having outscored opponents by nine points per 100 possessions over that stretch, which would be the third-best mark in the NBA over the course of the regular season, topped only by the league-best Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers. They've been locking down the opposition and firing on all cylinders offensively whenever their star point guard is on the floor ... when you're playing this well, you don't really need too much luck on your side.
Then again, it sure doesn't hurt when the fates give you the benefit of the doubt on plays like this third-quarter, um, "alley-oop" from Stephen Curry to Andrew Bogut:
Pump-fake at the 3-point line, penetrate the paint, find yourself facing three defenders, pick up your dribble and switch hands, float the ball at the backboard, thud it off to the left of the square, watch your 7-foot center slide in to corral and cram with his right hand all in one motion. Just like Warriors coach Mark Jackson drew it up on the sidelines, I'm sure.
Both Bogut and Curry did their level best to describe the serendipitous link-up after the game, according to Joseph White of The Associated Press:
"I didn't know what was going on," Bogut said. "I didn't know if he was shooting or throwing a lob, but I kind of knew it was a bad shot if it was a shot. I just tried to get where the ball was coming."
Curry had a got-away-with-it smile after the play. He described it as something that happened, well, accidentally on purpose.
"I made a decision to pick my dribble up and look for Bogut. Whoever was guarding him made a decision to stay with him, and my only option was to stick my hand out at the last second to redirect it," Curry said. "Thankfully it hit the right spot on the backboard, and Bogue made a quick reaction to go up. We've never done that before, so it was nice that it worked out."
Also nice: That the 'oop came in the midst of a monster third-quarter run that turned a 58-all tie at halftime into a garbage-time special before the final frame even started.
The Warriors outscored the Wizards 19-3 over the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second half before allowing a Nene jumper and promptly ripping off 11 straight points — a 30-5 barrage predicated largely on dominant interior play from Bogut and power forward David Lee (16 combined points and 10 rebounds during the run) and stultifying defense that held Washington to just 2 for 17 shooting in the 9 1/2 minute stretch.
The Wiz cut the deficit against reserve-heavy Golden State lineups, and trailed by 11 with 9:24 remaining in the game. Unfortunately for Washington, though, Jackson reinserted his starters, who restored order with an 11-2 mid-quarter run that put Randy Wittman's team to bed and sealed up a 112-96 win that gave the Warriors nine straight victories for the first time since a streak that spanned the end of the 1990-91 season and the beginning of '91-'92 campaign — and for the first time in a single season since 1975, according to the AP. (Reserve center Jermaine O'Neal, the Warriors' 35-year-old elder statesman, was three years away from being born when that happened.)
The Warriors will look to extend their streak to double-figures when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks in Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Given Golden State's current run of form and the Bucks' continual struggles to an NBA-worst 7-26 record, Jackson might not need to get too creative to come away with a 10th consecutive victory, but he still might want to think about calling Bogut's number on the weirdo lefty off-glass alley-oop again. Why fix what ain't broken, right?
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