The Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Clippers 115-105 on Friday night. It wasn’t the dominant, blowout win that they recorded against the Sacramento Kings. It wasn’t the “get to your TV right now and watch a jaw-dropping performance” like the win against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Heck, for almost 30 minutes, it wasn’t even a good performance.
Yet when the paint dried, the Warriors had not only recorded a win (which pushed them over .500), but knotted their best victory of the season.
With just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors trailed the Clippers 85-63. A 22-point deficit, with 15 minutes remaining, against a team in title contention? Time to start thinking about Sunday’s game, right?
The 22-point lead was down to six when the quarter ended. It was erased entirely 71 seconds into the fourth quarter. It was a lead a few possessions later, and eventually 97-91, capping a 34-6 run.
It was magical, and yet it didn’t feel entirely unsustainable. There were jaw-dropping plays, to be sure, but they came from Steph Curry, who does that regularly. Look at this madness, for instance:
Steph ➡️ D-Lee for the triple pic.twitter.com/QdaYDt1hgb— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 9, 2021
I’m just gonna leave you with that for a few minutes. Take your time. I’ll be here when you’ve caught your breath.
But now that I have you here ...
Steph can't be stopped right now pic.twitter.com/BIhhDuSW2d— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 9, 2021
The Warriors defense was tenacious. Their ball movement was crisp, and the bodies were flying.
It won’t always result in erasing a 20-point deficit in four minutes against a very good team, but nothing about it looked like a facade. It just looked like a good basketball team playing normal, good basketball. Or as Kent Bazemore said after the game, it proved “We are who we think we are.”
Bazemore was part of a dynamic bench unit. He shined, as did Damion Lee, Eric Paschall, Brad Wanamaker, and Mychal Mulder. They led the comeback, and Kerr ran with them. And in a sign of being willing to ride the moment, he even left Curry out on the court with them to start the fourth quarter, when the
soon-to-be-three-time two-time MVP is normally resting with his ET attire.
Kerr on leaving Steph in to start the fourth: "He was just smoking hot. We knew it was our ball to start the quarter, we figured we'd get one possession out of him."— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) January 9, 2021
Says it was a decision made by the assistant coaches while he was doing the ESPN interview.
Curry finished with one helluva bounce back game — 38 points, 11 assists, and 3 steals on 13-for-24 shooting, including 9-for-14 from distance — and after a lethargic two and a half quarters, his teammates started to work around him and with him.
And when the time came, they were all ready to step up and make their shots. And it all culminated in Andrew Wiggins placing the nail on the coffin, and Steph driving it home.
They looked like the Warriors as we’ve come to know and love them. Some of the actors may have changed, but for 15 glorious minutes, the motions did not.
5-4 looks a lot better than 4-5. Splitting a series with a title contender feels a lot better than getting swept at home. And watching the process work can only serve to expedite the growth, and reward the players for buying in.
As Paschall put it, “We’re gonna be a good team.” And they will be.
It was fun seeing the trailer.