The Golden State Warriors leaned on big performances from their young players in a wild overtime game against the Boston Celtics. But in crunch time, the team leaned on the old reliable Splash Brothers to deliver their biggest win of the season, 132-126.
Clinging to a 127-126 lead in the final seconds of overtime, Curry hit his sixth three-pointer of the game to ice the comeback victory for the Dubs. They trailed by 11 points with 9:53 to go, but Curry played the final 17 minutes with five fouls and the Warriors stunned the league-leading Celtics on TNT. He and Thompson combined for 57 points on 12-for-26 shooting from three-point range.
Jonathan Kuminga had his second steal in overtime, getting a dunk on the run-out to give the Warriors their first lead of the second half, after 25 minutes and 36 seconds. He finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and zero fouls despite regularly guarding Jayson Tatum.
Jonathan Kuminga STEAL and SLAM pic.twitter.com/2iFnRpzCua— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 20, 2023
Then rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis, surprisingly part of the team’s closing and overtime lineup, delivered a layup and a huge block on Jaylen Brown on the other end. He finished with ten points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks in what has to be the best game of his young career. Reggie Miller compared TJD to his father, Miller’s old Indiana Pacers teammate Antonio Davis.
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS MEETS JB AT THE RIM pic.twitter.com/l5sBIFHvaH— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 20, 2023
Golden State allowed an Al Horford three-pointer that cut the lead to a point, but after TJD kept Curry’s miss alive, Chris Paul grabbed a rebound, and Curry delivered the “Night Night.”
The Celtics may have made a tactical error in the fourth quarter, with Curry playing with five fouls. They repeatedly targeted the Baby-Faced Assassin on offense, often to the detriment of the flow of their own offense. Golden State responded with doubling, and Boston seemed to get in their own way foul-hunting. Curry even drew a charge on Jaylen Brown with 3:16 to go, then drilled a three at the other end to cut the Celtics’ lead to 116-115.
Klay Thompson responded with his sixth three-pointer of the game, tying the game at 118.
The Splash Bros. with HUGE threes down the stretch! pic.twitter.com/rYKK52T5ym— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 20, 2023
Not to be outdone, Derrick White made his seventh three-pointer of the game. Then Curry hit a step back three to make it 121-121.
After surviving four offensive rebounds and five Boston misses, the Warriors had two chances to win in regulation, but Curry and Chris Paul missed threes. Then Jonathan Kuminga smothered Tatum into a wild three and sent the game to overtime.
Boston came out with a 40-point first quarter, led by 14 Jaylen Brown points and a perfect 3-3 performance from long-range by Derrick White, who also had two blocked shots and forced a turnover. He harassed Steph Curry into a turnover and finished the game with 30 points, seven triples and three blocks. It seemed as if, just like in the 2022 Finals, the Warriors dared White and Al Horford to beat them from deep. White was 7-for-18 and Horford was 3-for-10, so it sort of worked, mainly because Tatum was only 2-for-9.
6️⃣ triples and counting for Derrick White pic.twitter.com/iWjhP8uytJ— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 20, 2023
Tatum turned an ankle early but the Warriors couldn’t take advantage, thanks to sloppy turnovers and missing their first six shots from deep. He returned for the second quarter, where the Warriors fell behind by 11, even after eight points in the first two minutes from Dario “The Homie” Saric.
But the team turned it around when Curry and rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis checked in. Golden State went on an 16-2 run, albeit with nearly two full scoreless minutes in the middle, built almost exclusively on dunks, layups, and free throws.
In the first half, the Warriors had a rough time finishing quarters. The first ended on a 6-3 Boston run, thanks to Neemia Queta getting a bucket after rebounding his own miss twice, and a blatant travel from Jrue Holiday with a second left. In the second, Boston closed on an 8-3 run, thanks to a questionable blocking foul on Steph Curry, his third. That led to a Derrick White three-pointer - where Neemias Queta injured Podziemski while boxing out.
That meant the Warriors started the third with Andrew Wiggins in the lineup, and his year-long struggles continued. He didn’t make a shot through three quarters, and in one first-quarter sequence, got blocked by White, missed his own follow, then whiffed on his tip-in.
How did he break out? He got a dime from Curry in transition when Kerr brought him back to start the fourth.
Steve Kerr continued his reputation as one of the NBA’s best coaches and worst challengers by letting Curry’s third foul call slide, but challenging his fifth, obvious foul midway through the third quarter, a no-hope challenge that was easily upheld by a rare speedy replay review.
Once Curry had to leave, the Celtics continued a 12-3 run with a bucket by Queta. Klay Thompson returned early from rest, and despite Chris Paul and Cory Joseph in the game, he took over at point guard. Thompson found Trayce Jackson-Davis for a layup, then delivered a hockey assist to TJD on the next play, as the rookie found Joseph for a layup.
Klay feeds TJD for the finish pic.twitter.com/OLRAhuZfVs— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 20, 2023
Brown finished with 28 points, one of seven Celtics in double figures. Horford finished with 13 points and 12 assists, but reserve Sam Hauser couldn’t hit water from the side of a boat, missing all six of his three-point attempts.
What did we learn
- 37-year-old Al Horford can still out-jump 27-year-old Kevon Looney. Nine Warriors played more minutes than Looney’s 14.
- Steph Curry did not forget how to shoot three-pointers, starting a new streak after his old one ended Sunday in Portland. After Curry hit his first three-pointer, announcer Reggie Miller announced, “He will never miss again the rest of his career.”
- Klay Thompson appears to be Klay Thompson again, shooting 36-73 in his last four games and 23-46 from deep. Could he have taken a polar bear plunge into San Francisco Bay to reset his shooting stroke last week?
- Rebounding remains an issue for the Dubs, but in a different way. They mishandled countless rebounds in the first quarter, whether it was tipping them away or getting them stripped by Boston’s active hands. Perhaps that’s why Jackson-Davis was so valuable.
- Paul’s struggling shot came back late in the game, as he hit three straight mid-range shots between the third and fourth quarters. He finished 4-for-12 from the field with a dozen assists.
- Hauser and Payton Pritchard look like they cut each other’s hair.
- Shaquille O’Neal declared that Steph Curry was better than him and asked, “Is it time to put in the conversation as the best player of all time?” (Yes.) Kenny Smith disagreed.
- Podziemski’s injury is officially a back strain - no word on his status for the game with the Washington Wizards Thursday.