The Golden State Warriors faced a serious challenge Tuesday night in welcoming the Atlanta Hawks to Oracle Arena with both Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala sidelined due to injury. Those absences showed throughout the contest, but the Warriors kept their near-record home win streak alive with a gritty performance and several big shots down the stretch.
The most important of those shots was largely a stroke of luck. Up 104-103 with 1:05 on the clock in overtime, the Warriors wisely chose to use up the bulk of their 24 seconds but looked destined for a shot clock violation as Klay Thompson made a difficult pass to Andrew Bogut towards the baseline. Bogut corralled it and passed out to Draymond Green in a desperate attempt to get a shot off, and Green obliged by somehow picking it up and shooting in one motion for this miracle three-pointer:
It was an amazing and unlikely conversion for a player who had looked tentative to fire from the perimeter mere possessions earlier. Yet incredible moments are becoming progressively more believable as this charmed Warriors season continues.
However, the game wasn't won with Green's three-pointer. Dennis Schröder made two free throws at the other end to make it 107-105, forcing Golden State into serving up another dagger to close it out. Klay Thompson, who had scored five of the Warriors' seven overtime points prior to Green's shot, worked in isolation and faked Paul Millsap into giving up this short jumper:
Schröder chose one of the worst of several bad options on the next possession in firing a Curry-esque 30-footer, and Thompson eluded foulers after a timeout to close out Golden State's 109-105 win. The Warriors have now taken 43 games in a row at Oracle Arena and will look to tie the Chicago Bulls' NBA record of 44 straight (running from March 1995 until April 1996) on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Tuesday's win stands out in part because it required the Warriors to dig much deeper than usual. Green took on the vast majority of playmaking duties with both Curry and Iguodala out, which worked fine for a while as they built up a 59-48 halftime lead. That advantage stayed in double digits as late as the 3:00 mark of the third quarter, but the Warriors offense stagnated for only 38 second-half points. The Hawks responded to take several late leads and looked in superior position to win late.
Atlanta will regret not taking further advantage, because it's hard to imagine a more fortuitous set of circumstances to beat Golden State at Oracle. The Warriors shot 39.8 percent from the field and 12-of-36 from beyond the arc as both Thompson (8-of-27 FG) and Green (6-of-15 FG) failed to shoot at a high percentage. Golden State survived with a season-high 19 from Andrew Bogut, who missed just one of his nine field goals (on a rushed jumper at the regulation jumper) and contributions around the margins from Leandro Barbosa (11 points on 4-of-7 FG, including a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer) and Marreese Speights (10 points 2-of-2 3FG).
But Golden State grinded out the win in a number of ways, including 18 offensive rebounds, 28 assists to 11 turnovers, and big plays when they mattered most. Green's all-around play was especially meaningful. Despite passing up shots and generally looking limited as a scorer, Green almost added to his league-leading triple-double total with 15 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, and four steals. This theft and save in the fourth quarter doubled as the night's second-best highlight:
Thompson similarly saved his best moments for when they mattered most, scoring 11 of his game-high 26 in the final seven minutes.
Those performances stood in contrast to those of the Hawks, who missed several open shots that could have won them the game in regulation and overtime. Atlanta did well to drive and kick against a switching Golden State defense that clearly missed Iguodala's versatility, but they could not convert with enough consistency to pickup the win. It wasn't a bad performance — taking the Warriors to OT at Oracle is an achievement no matter who's wearing the uniform — but it lacked some key features.
Both Curry and Iguodala seem likely to return Thursday, which means that the Warriors are odds-on favorites to match the Bulls' record. The game was going to be appointment viewing regardless after Saturday's thriller, but it's now even more essential with history on the line.
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