Golden State got 19 steals against the Clippers on Sunday, one of the best efforts in franchise history. Let’s look at their biggest thieving games since 1983-84, the first season where there’s complete data for team steals, along with a few huge steals games from 1975 - Rick Barry was very good at takeaways.
12/16/16: Warriors 117, Brooklyn Nets 101 - 19 steals
The Warriors played this game without Draymond Green, meaning they were down to the Hamptons four for a decidedly pre-Durant matchup in Brooklyn. The 26-4 Warriors were in danger of losing to the 7-21 Nets, who led 65-49 at the half, before they ramped up the defensive intensity in the second half.
Curry began the second half by swiping the ball from Jeremy Lin, immediately leading to a Durant dunk and three-point play. Looney stole the ball from Trevor Booker, Durant stole from Brook Lopez, Curry stole from Sean Kilpatrick, and then Klay Thompson stole from Lin. Four minutes into the third quarter, the Warriors had stolen the ball five times, part of Brooklyn’s seven turnovers in the same span. Curry finished with five steals, Thompson had four, and KD had three in what turned into a runaway victory.
12/30/14: Warriors 126, Philadelphia 76ers 86 - 19 steals
Two franchises moving in very different directions met in Oakland on New Year’s Eve Eve in 2014. The Warriors were 24-5 and on their way to a title; the Sixers were 4-25 in Year Two of the Process, on their way to the NBA’s third-worst record. Everyone but Mo Speights recorded a steal for the Warriors, including Ognjen Kuzmic, who would go on to make the G League All-Defensive Third Team. Henry Sims led Philly in scoring with 19 points, and someone named Furkan Aldemir played 16 minutes for the Sixers. Basketball Reference says his nickname is “Mr. Rebound” and who am I to argue with that?
11/8/91: 76ers 126, Warriors 116 - 19 steals
Golden State lost their first game of the season to Philadelphia in 1991, despite 19 steals, and six by rookie Billy Owens. Tim Hardaway had 40 points and 12 assists, but the Warriors lost after their offense got shut down in the 4th. They had no answer for Armen Gilliam, who had 28 points and 11 rebounds, or for Charles Barkley, who put up a 31/15/9 line and made all 15 of his free throws. The Sixers shot 42 free throws in total, and the Warriors committed a staggering 33 personal fouls in the game. Hey, no one could accuse them of not being aggressive enough on defense.
12/29/84: 76ers 109, Warriors 95 - 19 steals
Rookie Barkley killed the Warriors on the boards in this game, as did Moses Malone, but the ball-hawking prowess of Lester “The Molester” Conner kept the Warriors in the game. Conner got his nickname because his tenacious defense bothered ball handlers so much, not because he got #MeToo’d - he spent a decade as an assistant coach. Sleepy Floyd had four steals, harassing Julius Erving and Sedale Threatt into miscues. All those steals meant the Warriors got 19 more shot attempts than the Sixers - but they made four fewer baskets. Look, they didn’t call him “Lester the Reliable Outside Shooter.”
12/15/83: Warriors 119, Kansas City Kings 116 - 19 steals
Once again, Lester the Molester and Sleepy Floyd combined for nine steals in a wild game where Kansas City won the third quarter 40-25, and the Warriors stormed back with a 35-20 4th quarter to steal it. The Kings had 28 turnovers in this one, playing out of control on both ends of the court - the Warriors shot 52 free throws in this game! And took zero three-point shots. (The Kings took, and missed, one) If future coaches Larry Drew or Mike Woodson ever lectured their players about taking care of the ball, their players could point to this box score and yell at them. Or future GM Billy Knight, who turned it over seven times. The Kings were so embarrassed, they fled the Midwest a year later.
2/19/97: Warriors 112, Boston Celtics 101 - 20 steals
The Celtics were deep into their tanking for Tim Duncan when they came to Oakland in 1997, but Chris Mullin decidedly was not. In one of his last games before being traded to Indiana, Mullin got seven steals, mostly from Antoine Walker and David Wesley. Latrell Sprewell had a massive game with 41 points and four steals, choking off the passing lanes like they were a bearded coach yelling at him to put some mustard on his passes.
2/13/92: Warriors 109, San Antonio Spurs 94 - 20 steals
Sarunas Marciulionis had six steals off the bench against the Spurs, less than a year after he killed San Antonio in a 3-1 first round upset. Like the current team, this squad had a huge third quarter and harassed the taller Spurs into a plethora of turnovers. Chris Gatling had two steals in his three minutes and Mullin had four swipes.
11/9/09: Warriors 146, Minnesota Timberwolves 105 - 22 steals
In Steph Curry’s sixth career game, the 1-4 Warriors stomped the 1-6 Timberwolves. The steal total itself is a little deceptive, as nine of their 22 steals happened in the 4th quarter when the Warriors were already up by more than 30 points. Five of those fourth quarter steals were by Acie Law IV, who abused Ramon Sessions and Sasha Pavlovic in the period, and also drew a charge. For the game, Stephen Jackson finished with four steals and 15 assists, giving hope that the post-Baron Davis guards would be in good shape. A week later, Jackson and Law were traded for Vladimir Radmanovic.
12/6/75: Warriors 104, Supersonics 94 - 23 steals
All 11 Warriors who played recorded a steal in this game, and that includes rookie Bubbles Hawkins. Another rookie, Gus Williams, paced the team with five steals. Williams would go on to win an NBA title and make two All-Star teams, but only after the Warriors let him go to the Sonics for cash. Rick Barry had four steals, because that’s what Rick Barry loves to do: Get steals, get buckets, and get mad at the Warriors crowd for booing Joe Lacob.
1/21/75: Warriors 138, Lakers 108 - 24 steals
Butch Beard had eight steals to go along with Barry’s seven steals in what was, at the time, the biggest steals game for an NBA team so far - granted, the NBA only started tracking them in the 1973-74 season. Just a rough game for the Lakers all around, who decided they’d be better off trading half their team for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a few months than let Rick Barry keep humiliating them.
3/25/75: Warriors 139, Lakers 122 - 25 steals
Barry scored 40 points and took the ball away eight times against the Lakers, who were getting real sick of him at this point. Jamaal Wilkes added three, so did Clifford Ray and Beard, and Gail Goodrich really started to miss Jerry West. This team would go on to set the record for steals in an NBA Finals game a few months later, with 17. That record stood for 33 years until the Celtics broke it against, who else, the Lakers.
2/15/89: Warriors 133, Spurs 96 - 25 steals
This is the second-highest team steal total in NBA history, only shy of the 27 recorded by the 1997 Sonics. Winston “Darius’ Dad” Garland led the way with six steals and Terry Teagle had five, while future Nevada Wolf Pack coach Steve Alford had four swipes off the bench. A washed up Ralph Sampson got a steal, and so did future Reggie Miller nemesis John Starks. Manute Bol didn’t get a single steal, but he did have five blocks (he missed his only three-point attempt). As for the Spurs, Frank Brickowski turned it over eight times and Larry Brown called the Navy after the game begging them to let David Robinson out early.