Has your heart stopped pounding yet?
Seventy. One. Uno mas to tie the record.
The Warriors earned this win behind Draymond Green, the heart and soul of this squad, the one who makes them go. His tip-in off of Stephen Curry's layup attempt with sixty seconds remaining in regulation gave the Dubs a one-point lead, and they held on at the end.
It took three fantastic defensive plays.
Following his tap-in, Draymond battled Zach Randolph on the right block, not letting him get a clear shot at the basket. And, true to his Defensive-Player-of-the-Year-quality form, Green forced Randolph into an air ball.
Twenty-three points on ten-of-fourteen shooting, eleven boards, four dimes, and some of the biggest plays of the game for Draymond. A game-winning tip-in and one of the final clinching stops -- that's not only dirty work, it's All-NBA-level play too.
Lance Stephenson got two chances to win the game with under ten seconds left, and the Warriors absolutely harassed him. Like, there was absolutely zero chance he was getting a clean look with the game on the line. Klay Thompson and Steph were all over him on his first layup attempt, and Andre Iguodala joined in on contesting Stephenson's bricked jumper with 0.8 left.
It didn't come easy, as the Warriors trailed by double-figures and by nine halfway through the fourth quarter, 93-84.
Motivated by pride or by the chase for 73 or simply by playing the Death Lineup down the stretch, they turned loose, with a three by Curry, a three by Iguodala, a tough drive to the hoop by Green, and a clutch three for the lead by Harrison Barnes.
Then came the final tense minute of action, in which the Warriors earned their seventy-first victory -- the thirty-third road win of the season, tying the 1995-96 Bulls for the most in a single season.
The Warriors have all season played down to much worse competition, and tonight was no different. This was shaping up to be a game like many the team has played -- and lost -- all season long. Whether playing the Nuggets, the Lakers, the Timberwolves, or the Bucks, the Warriors have lost numerous games with or without key players simply by not executing and taking the other team seriously. These are NBA players on the other side, too, and from young players like Andrew Wiggins and D'angelo Russell and Giannis Antetokounmpo to veterans like Kobe Bryant and Zach Randolph, they don't like getting beat down; they give their best effort, especially when playing the best team in the NBA.
The Grizzlies gave an inspired effort tonight, and, if the Warriors hadn't suddenly turned on the jets in the final period, would have pulled out probably their best win of the season. Memphis has been hampered by injuries all season and was missing star point guard Mike Conley, who defends Stephen Curry extremely well, and one of the best big men in the game, Marc Gasol. But the Warriors were just too skilled down the stretch -- and, well, that Death Lineup.
Tomorrow night, it will be even harder to come out with a win. One of the most-hyped, most important regular season games in Warriors history. Warriors-Spurs. Golden State hasn't won in San Antonio since before I was born, in 1997, and the Spurs are going to come out with all the energy they can muster to try and show the champs who's boss in their last matchup of the regular season. (Please, basketball gods, let us finally get a Western Conference Finals between these two -- it's what basketball fans deserve!) Plus, the Warriors are on the second game of a road-road back-to-back, and the Spurs are aiming for an unprecedented feat: an undefeated home regular season.
Sunday in San Antonio is going to be a battle, just like tonight. Let's hope it lives up to all the hype.