(The Sports Xchange) - The Golden State Warriors showed why they are considered the best team in the NBA. Then it all fell apart and it nearly cost them a monster home winning streak.
Guard Klay Thompson hit a key 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining as the Golden State Warriors erased a nine-point deficit, blew a 20-point lead and outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-108 Saturday night at Oracle Arena.
”In the third quarter we got careless,“ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ”I thought we just kind of took our foot off the pedal for a bit, settled for careless possessions, stopped moving and cutting. And they did a great job.
“Obviously that’s an explosive team. So we opened the door a crack and they marched through.”
Thompson finished with 18 points on 8 of 15 shooting but was just 1 of 6 on 3-pointers.
His only connection seemed to make the deficit just too much for the Thunder (38-14), giving the Warriors a 110-104 lead and coming 19 seconds after forward Kevin Durant missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.
Guard Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 26 points despite missing seven of eight 3-pointers. He made 10 of 25 shots overall and also handed out 10 assists.
Durant led the Thunder with 40 points and point guard Russell Westbrook added 27. Westbrook also had 12 assists but did not come close to another triple-double, finishing with only three rebounds.
Before Thompson’s clutch 3-pointer, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter tied the game at 104-104 with 3:25 to play on a fadeway but the Warriors (46-4) finished with a 12-4 run and notched their 41st straight home victory.
“I thought we closed it out the right way,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green, who filled the stat sheet with nine points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
”Obviously losing the lead, I don’t think we blew it, they made plays, which is expected from a good team like that. But the way we closed it out down the stretch and that was key.
“We made the plays today we needed to make. We’re a resilient and competitive team. We’re trying to get better each and every time we step on the floor.”
Green grabbed a couple of huge rebounds late. With 2:47 left, he got a rebound on Durant’s missed 3-pointer that led to a Curry layup.
Then with 1:18 left and the Warriors clinging to a 110-106 lead, he grabbed an offensive board off Curry’s missed 3-pointer that resulted with a Curry layup that gave the Warriors a 112-106 lead with 54 seconds left.
“It was just a hustle play,” Green said. “I saw Steph shoot and once it almost went in, I still crashed the glass and it popped out and was able to get a hand on it and chase it down. Got to be able to make those kind of plays down the stretch.”
Forward Harrison Barnes added 19 points for Golden State while reserves Marreese Speights added 15 and Shaun Livingston had 10. The Warriors’ reserves outscored Oklahoma City’s second unit 42-17.
The Thunder had just two first-half bench points compared to the Warriors’ 23. And it was a crucial second quarter that saw the Warriors claim a 20-point lead at 60-40 when Speights hit a free throw before Curry hit a jumper in the final seconds for a 73-59 halftime lead.
Oklahoma City chipped away at that lead via the free-throw line. The Thunder connected on 29 of 37 free throws with Durant going 13 of 13 from the line.
Defensively, the Thunder threw some fits at the Warriors in the third quarter. They held Golden State to just 18 points that included a 9 of 26 shooting drought. They also kept the Warriors from making a 3-pointer - one of the backbones to their offense.
The Thunder kept the pressure on in the fourth and got it to under double-digits - at 99-90 - when Kanter made a reverse layup with 7:20 left. Kanter picked up the bench slack in the second half. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly