This wasn't a Thanksgiving hangover. This was Murphy's Law in all of his bitter, sulking misery.
The Golden State Warriors got more than a scare from the rebuilding Charlotte Hornets, being thoroughly outplayed for three whole quarters before gutting out the 106-101 win.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Splash Brothers were a combined 12-of-37 against the 21st ranked defense (per basketball-reference.com). And the Charlotte Hornet's 26th ranked offense was torching the NBA's best defense for 50.8% shooting from the field. Murphy's Law.
First, the Warriors' defense: Charlotte shot 48.7% in the first half, and also took eight more free throws than Golden State. When Andrew Bogut sat on the bench, driving lanes started to open up all over the arc, and these drives almost always resulted in two free throws for the home team. Brandon Rush, in particular, looked like a dribble cone on the court (you know, the kind you're supposed to go around, but they're so harmless and small you can just walk right over them without a second thought).
To make all of this worse (worst?), Charlotte just couldn't miss. The 26th ranked offense started 6-10 from three-point range, including a ridiculous 5-of-6 in the second quarter to open up a surprising lead. It's true that many of these shots were lightly contested at best, but if you've watched tape on Kemba Walker, you know that's always the right thing to do.
Despite Charlotte's three-point heroics, and Golden State's awful shooting, the Warriors still should have weathered this storm. But penetration lead to cheap fouls, killing Golden State's pacing and putting points on the wrong side of the board.
On offense, Golden State shot just 42.4% from the field, but it looked like a simple case of their shots not falling (as opposed to great defensive play from the Charlotte). The Warriors were moving and making reads properly in the half court for the most part, and the turnover problems looked to be under control. Even while trailing, this still looked like Warriors basketball, except the balls would not go in the hoop. No matter how open the shooter, the boys in white were lucky to hit rim at times.
As if this all wasn't enough, the referees were very one-sided. Blaming referees is always bad form, but it's impossible to tell the story of the game without mentioning two free throw attempts in more than two quarters for the Dubs. The Hornets enjoyed a 25-13 foul discrepancy-despite committing three intentional fouls!
But then we entered the fourth quarter. End game. Winning time. Marreese Speights.
The stretch forward put the Warriors on his back like few players could have in this league. In six minutes, he outscored Charlotte 16-8 with a bundle of 18-20 foot jumpers to give the Warriors their first lead of the half, 88-86. While the mid-range offense is never the preferred option, the Warriors were lucky to have a plan D tonight.
Then, for the last six minutes of the game, the Warriors showed us exactly what this game should have looked like. Minus the one-sided offensive foul calls, that is. The starters re-entered the game and put the Hornets in their rear view, outscoring the home team 32-21 in the fourth. The pace quickened, the Warriors got several easy buckets in transition, and wide-the-heck-open shots finally started falling. Stephen Curry added 12 fourth quarter points of his own, all in the final six minutes-much to the delight of his personal cheering section.
Every team faces a Murphy's Law game here and there. But they usually don't win them. This team has won two this road trip, pushing their record to a league-best (tie) 13-2 in the process. Let's hope Sunday's matinee in Detroit isn't quite so stressful.