Curry Surprises Jackson With Buzzer-Beater Over Mavs In OT On Coach’s Birthday

By Matthew Harrington
Warriors coach Mark Jackson received quite the birthday gift from his All-star guard Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Stephen Curry hit the game-winning shot with .1 seconds remaining in overtime to cap a Golden State 122-120 upheaval of the Dallas Mavericks (44-31). As coach Jackson blew out the 49 candles on his cake, the Dubs created a little bit of breathing room in the Western Conference playoff picture. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs entered play Tuesday with 44 wins, just one less than their foes from California. The Warriors (46-28) have two games in hand over Dallas.

Curry’s game-winner in the extra session, his third career buzzer-beating basket, was a culmination of a 43-minute, 23-point effort. Fellow guard Klay Thompson topped Golden State on 27 points, going 11-for-24 from the field including 4-of9 from downtown. Jermaine O’Neal, starting at center with Andrew Bogut not making the trip nursing a sore groin and David Lee in street clothes for the third-straight game, picked up 20 points and 8 rebounds. Marreese Speights’ 9 rebounds paced the Warriors.

Ex-Warrior Monta Ellis did his best to sink his former franchise, shooting 11-for-23 with 27 points. Mavs perennial All-Star Nowitzki contributed a game-high 33 points over 39 minutes of play and converted the double-double on a game-high 11 boards.

The Warriors connected on a blistering 57.1 shooting percentage, making 52 shots on 91 attempts including nearly half (15) of their 31 shots from beyond the arc. Mark Cuban’s club held the advantage in turnovers, forfeiting possession 8 times to the visitors’ 12. The Mavericks somehow managed to keep Golden State from going to the free throw line for the entirety of the second half.

The Warriors overpowered their hosts in the first, racing out to a 30-21 lead after twelve minutes of play. Dallas bombarded Golden State with 41 second-quarter points, the most the Warriors have yielded in a single frame this season, while limiting the visitors to 23 points for a 62-53 halftime edge.

It took the Warriors nearly ten minutes of play in the third to catch up to Dallas when Speights rolled in a layup to make it 78-all before Vince Carter hit one of two free throws to restore the slim Mavs one-point edge. The Warriors would score seven of the last nine points for an 85-81 lead after three frames.

Dallas capped a 10-5 run to open the fourth with a Carter basket to pull ahead 91-90 nearly four minutes in to the final stanza of regulation. The Warriors briefly wrestled the lead back from their foes but found themselves trailing 106-102 with 1:43 until the final horn. Andre Iguodala and Thompson sandwiched three-pointers around an Ellis jumper to knot things up a 108 a piece with a minute left but that would be the last basket of regulation as the teams would require an five-minute overtime to decide the victor.

Dallas opened the final five minutes on a Dirk jumper before Jermaine O’Neal hit only one of two free throws to pull the Warriors within one at 110-109. O’Neal represented the first Warrior to head to the charity stripe since Thompson completed the and-1 play with 2:55 left in the second quarter. From there the two teams would go shot-for-shot over the next five baskets before a Thompson trey preceded a Curry 16-foot jumper to put the Dubs up 118-117 over halfway through OT.

The Mavs’ Jose Calderon responded with a three of his own before O’Neal took a Draymon Green feed to the rim to knot things up at 120-all. The Warriors were looking for a quick basket to force a last-possession chance, a goal achieved when Green connected with O’Neal with 28 seconds left.

On the penultimate Dallas possession of the game, Ellis tried to take the winning shot but he was rejected on the layup by O’Neal. On the next Warrior possession Curry connected on the off-balance jumper with a tenth of a second remaining. The Mavs couldn’t connect on the in-bound deflection play, and after a brief review, the Warriors win was official.

Golden State looks to give Jackson a second belated gift Wednesday evening. They continue on to a showdown in San Antonio with the Spurs at the AT&T Center where they haven’t won since Valentine’s Day of 1997, just six days before then 31-year-old point guard Jackson was dealt from the Denver Nuggets back to the Indiana Pacers. After the second leg of the Texas road trip the Warriors return to the West Coast for a showdown with in-state rivals, the Sacramento Kings, Friday night at Oracle Arena.

Splash Brothers Will Slumping Warriors to Rally Past Portland Late in 113-112 Thriller

By Matthew Harrington

Whatever message the Warriors discussed in a team meeting following their second-straight loss Friday night, one that saw a 15-point Golden State lead swing into a loss against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, certainly stuck with the Splash Brothers. It just took some time in Sunday evening’s 113-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center for the backcourt tandem of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to take over. The emerging faces of the franchise rallied Golden State (42-26) 18-point deficit in the third quarter to cap a wild comeback while avoiding a three-game losing skid for the first time since November 20-23 of this season.

Thompson, absent from Friday’s 103-94 loss to attend his grandfather’s funeral in the Bahamas, and Curry chipped in 15 points apiece in the fourth quarter, scoring 30 of 36 Warrior points in the pivotal period. The guards combined for 64 points, including 28 second-half points for Curry and 23 for Thompson to push the Dubs to their 15th triumph in 21 tries away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena. The dominant road run is the first of its kind in franchise history.

After Curry’s 37 points and Thompson’s 27, including the eventual game-winner, David Lee finished third on the team with 16 points in only 24 minutes of play. Warriors forward Draymond Green had a team-high eight rebounds before fouling out. Damian Lillard led Portland (43-24) with 26 points while Nicolas Batum added 23 of his own to accompany a game-best 14 rebounds. Blazers center Robin Lopez converted a double-double as well, collecting 10 rebounds and 14 points. LaMarcus Aldridge sat out his second-consecutive game with a lower back contusion suffered in a 103-90 Blazers loss at San Antonio Wednesday.

Golden State opened the game again struggling to address the woes that sparked Friday’s closed-doors discussion. The Warriors found themselves trailing the team directly above them in the standings 55-44 at the half Sunday night. Portland, entering play with a 3.5 games ahead of the Warriors for fifth in the Western Conference, built on its first half success in the third. The Blazers took their largest cushion of the night, an 18-point separation, after Nicolas Batum hit a three to make it 70-52 Blazers 4:11 into the quarter. The Dubs chipped away with a 25-15 run over the final four-plus minute stretch to cut the deficit to 85-77, setting up the thrilling fourth-quarter momentum shift.

12 minutes away from only what would be only the second three-game losing streak all season, Golden State rallied to tie the game at 96-all with just over half a quarter. The Warriors evened the score courtesy of string of play where the Dubs limited Portland to 11 points while scoring 19 of their own over the first half of the final period of play. After Curry hit the free throw on Portland coach Terry Stotts’ technical foul, Thompson connected on only the second of two attempts from the charity stripe to give the Warriors their first lead since the first quarter now standing six minutes from the final whistle.

The lead changed hands five times over the next 5:49 of game time before Thompson,who arrived in the States late Saturday night, buried a three with just 11 seconds remaining on the clock to swing the scoreboard in  the Warriors’ favor 113-111. Golden State’s Andre Iguodala fouled Batum on a bid to even the game with five ticks left on the clock but the Blazers forward missed the potential tying shot after getting the first free throw to fall. Batum followed his miss and came up with the rebound, but his three-pointer from far out fell a few feet short of the basket as the buzzer sounded for Portland’s fifth loss in six games.

Warriors Center Andrew Bogut departed the game with 6:22 to play after suffering an apparent ankle injury on a layup attempt. Warriors coach Mark Jackson dismissed any concerns about the Aussie’s health, saying that Bogut asked to be subbed back in. Barring any setbacks, he should be on the Oracle Arena floor Tuesday night when the Warriors take on the Orlando Magic.

In Battle of the Streaks, Warriors Halted by Griffin, Clippers

By Matthew Harrington

On a night when the Los Angeles Lakers received the bleak prognosis that Kobe Bryant would sit out the rest of the season due to injury, the other two California franchises garnered the major headlines while stoking the flames of a heated, burgeoning rivalry. With the Lakers glory days behind them, the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers took the Staples Center Court Wednesday night with bragging rights as best of the West Coast on the line. The Warriors ultimately succumbed to the Blake Griffin show, dropping a hotly-contested 111-98 verdict to split the season series with their Southern California rivals. The Pacific Division leaders snapped Golden State’s five-game win streak, adding a ninth-consecutive win to LA’s total.

Clippers All-Star Griffin scorched the Warriors for 30 points and 15 rebounds, including his 3,000 board of his career in the third quarter. Griffin is now the third player in NBA history to shoot over 50 percent with 6,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in the first four seasons of a career, joining Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley. Guard Chris Paul finished a pair of rebounds shy of a triple-double, collecting 16 points and 12 assists to hand the Dubs their fourth-straight loss to the Clippers at the Staples Center.

Klay Thompson went 10-for-19 from the field, finishing with 26 points including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc to lead Golden State in scoring. David Lee chipped in 20 points. The Warriors reserves scuffled from the field, connecting on only a trio out of 25 chances, but Draymond Green connected on 7-of-9 free throws and Harrison Barnes and Jermaine O’Neal pitched in three each to help the bench to a 20-point contribution.

The two teams matched each other point-for-point in the first quarter, wrapping up the first 12 minutes at a 29-29 stalemate. The lead changed hands nine times in a frantic second quarter that saw the Warriors escape to the half nursing a slim two-point edge at 56-54.

Golden State outscored the home team 20-15 over the first six and a half minutes of the second half to take its largest lead of the night at seven points but the Clippers closed the gap on a 10-3 run. Los Angeles tied it on a Willie Green three-pointer with 1:22 left in the quarter then scored the next five points unanswered to end the quarter on top 84-79. Jermaine O’Neal opened the fourth hitting three of four from the charity stripe to pull the Dubs within two, but it would be the closest the Northern California squad got. The Clippers dominated the run of play, outpacing the Warriors 27 points to 16 down the stretch for the win.

Looking to avoid consecutive losses, the Warriors welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers, currently two spots above Orlando for worst in the Eastern conference, to Oracle Arena for a Friday night showdown before a critical meeting with another of the Western Conference’s strongest teams. Golden State travels to Portland to face the Trailblazers Sunday evening.

Warriors Stiff Hawks Despite Thompson’s Early Exit With Back Stiffness

By Matthew Harrington

Golden State received a major scare on Friday night, but the visiting Atlanta Hawks weren’t the ones striking fear into the Warriors, nor scoreboard a factor as it was during the last engagement between the two teams. The Dubs skated to a 111-97 win at Oracle Arena this time out, outscoring the Hawks (26-34) in three of four quarters, a far departure from the 101-100 dramatic win in Atlanta in January. The drama from the evening, however, came six minutes into play when guard Klay Thompson shuffled off the court with a back injury, sitting out the rest of the evening.

The Warriors stated that Thompson, a talent on the cusp on super-stardom, was held out as a precautionary measure. His streak of 211 consecutive regular-season appearances, a franchise record, does not appear to be in jeopardy.  Despite only six minutes of playing time, Thompson still managed a point-per-minute output, going 2-for-5 from the field with a pair of free throws.

David Lee topped the Dubs with 18 points in 25 minutes while Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry contributed 13 points apiece. Curry lead the Warriors with seven assists, while center Andrew Bogut had a team-high nine rebounds. Golden State (39-24) connected on over half of their bids from the floor, hitting 43-of-80 from the field for a 54.8 shooting percentage. They also out-rebounded the Hawks 44-36.

Forward Paul Millsap had 16 points and seven boards, both highs for the Hawks, after missing the previous five games with a knee injury. Fellow forward Mike Scott added 14 points. Scott also provided the comedy for the evening, losing his shoe put proceeding to make a three-pointer on the play.

The first quarter saw even play as the Warriors closed out the first 12 minutes with a single-point, 32-31 lead. It appeared to be more of the same for the 2nd quarter, with the Warriors grasping to a 48-46 lead five minutes from the half. Atlanta would be held to just six points over the closing 300 seconds to head to the half in a 66-52 hole.

The Hawks outscored the Warriors 25-19 in the third, the only instance of Atlanta outscoring its hosts in a quarter Friday night. The final frame of regulation opened on a down note for the visitors though as they failed to put a point on the board until Shelvin Mack hit a jumper with 5:07 left to play. By then the Warriors held a decisive 97-79 margin, allowing Golden State to withstand an 18-12 Atlanta run over the waning minutes of play to come out victorious.

Friday marked the first home game for the Warriors after their second-longest road trip of the season, a six-game swing that saw them go 4-2 against Eastern Conference foes. In a flip of scheduling, the Warriors will only play two of the remaining 10 games in March on the road. They continue the three-game home set with a tilt against Phoenix Sunday before the Dallas Mavericks come to Oakland Tuesday night. The Dubs, winners of eight of their last ten, currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings and are four games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the Pacific Division lead.

Thompson’s Game-Winner, 16 4th-Quarter Points Pace Warriors Over NBA’s Best In Indiana

By Matthew Harrington

The enigmatic road trip continued for the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night when the host Indiana Pacers, owners of an NBA-best home record of 29-4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, narrowly snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat. Klay Thompson’s 25 points, including the game-winning jumper with .6 seconds remaining, willed the Warriors to a 98-96 decision over Indiana (46-14), owners of the top record in the association, despite Golden State blowing a 13-point lead with a half dozen minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Thompson rallied the Warriors (37-24) to the win with a 16 point fourth quarter when fellow guard Stephen Curry, the usual bell cow in the clutch for Golden State, went ice cold. Curry finished the night with 19 points, all scored in the first three quarters. Andrew Bogut and David Lee were hemmed in by the Pacers league-best defense for a combined 14 points and 11 rebounds. Pacers forward David West dropped a game-high 27 points while Paul George added 26 of his own. George completed the double-double with a game-best 12 rebounds.

Despite the Pacers topping practically every defensive metric available, the Warriors still connected on close to their season average in field goal percentage (45.5 percent), hitting 44 percent Tuesday on 37 makes out of 84 attempts. The Dubs hit exactly half of their shots from beyond the arc, going 10-for-20 from downtown and their bench outscored the Pacers reserves 34-11.

The Warriors took their first lead, 10-8, after Curry connected on a layup 4:15 into play before Paul George hit a three to restore the Indy edge. Led by a seven-point run from Curry, the Warriors closed out the final seven minutes of the first quarter outscoring Indiana 15-10, finding themselves up 25-21 after 12 minutes of play. The Warriors netted 23 second quarter points to the Pacers 21 to establish a 48-42 cushion at the half.

Indiana pulled within one, 51-50, just 2:18 into the second half and took their first lead since the first quarter two minutes later after Lance Stephenson hit a two-pointer with 4:32 of the clock and the scoreboard reading 56-54 Pacers. The Warriors closed out the final three minutes of the third on a 10-7 run to lead 73-70 three-fourths of the way through play.

The initial six minutes of the fourth and final frame were all Warriors, as they notched 19 points to the Pacers 9, but the home team held the guests to only two field goals in the final five minutes to draw even 96-96 after George hit his second of two free throws with just over a minute left. Klay Thompson’s buzzer beater, a turn-around jumper off a Draymond Green feed, would be the only basket made over the final minute of play, handing the Warriors their first triumph in Indiana since February of 2007.

With Tuesday’s win, the Warriors guarantee they will finish the second-longest road trip of the season going at least .500 after picking up wins in Brooklyn, Detroit and Indiana while falling to Chicago and Toronto. The Warriors can complete the road swing with a fourth win in a Wednesday night swing in Boston to complete the current six-game road set.

No Lee, No Problem as Streaking Warriors Grind Down Pistons for Win

By Matthew Harrington

It would be hard to believe on a night when David Lee wasn’t even in the building, Andrew Bogut nursed a nagging shoulder injury and Stephen Curry‘s silky-smooth shooting touch went rough that the Warriors would walk away with a W. Monday night proved that anything is possible with the red-hot Dubs, winners now of four in a row since the All-Star break. The Detroit Pistons (23-34) became victim number four, falling at the hands of the Warriors 104-96 at the Palace of Auburn Hills despite Curry nailing just 6 of 15 field goals attempted.

With Andrew Bogut returning to play after injuring his shoulder seven games ago and David Lee missing his second-straight contest with the flu, the load was placed firmly on the shoulders of the Warriors’ lone All-Star Curry. The Human Torch remained relatively damp, hitting only 3 of 9 three-pointers for 19 points but fed his teammates plenty while collecting nine assists. Guard Klay Thompson also had 19 points for the Warriors (35-22), including two that came on a dunk over Kyle Singler that sent the Pistons guard staggering into the stands.

Jermaine O’Neal, starting for Lee who didn’t join the Warriors on the trip, put together another solid performance, netting a second-straight double-double on 16 points and 10 rebounds. O’Neal previously sparked the Warriors 93-86 win over Brooklyn with 23 points and 13 rebounds Saturday night at Oracle Arena. Jordan Crawford had his best night in the blue and gold since coming over in a January trade, picking up 15 points in the Warriors first game of a six-game road trip.

The Piston big men took advantage of the absence of Lee and a limited Bogut (due to injury and foul trouble) with all three members of the starting frontcourt cracking double-digits in scoring. Forward Greg Monroe had a game-high 23 points and Josh Smith converted the double-double on 18 points and 11 boards. Starting center Andre Drummond picked up 11 points while Singler bounced back from the debilitating dunk to pick up a respectable 18 points.

The Pistons controlled play early, taking a 10-point lead with just over 5 minutes left in the 1st and the Warriors trailing 22-12. The Dubs closed out the quarter on a 21-15 lead to get within striking distance at 37-33. Golden State took its first lead since the 2:14 mark of the game after Harrison Barnes nailed a trey with 1:11 gone in the quarter. Just 35 seconds later, Crawford hit one from downtown to pad the Warriors edge to 41-37.

The two teams traded the lead twice over the rest of the half with the Warriors wresting it away from the Pistons for good on an Andre Iguodala layup with three minutes remaining to make it 55-54 for the visitors. The Warriors would head to the intermission clinging to a slim 63-62 advantage.

The two teams fought tooth and nail yet again in the second half, exchanging leads five times in the third to give the Pistons am 83-81 lead after 36 minutes of regulation. Down the stretch the Warriors limited Detroit to just 13 points while scoring 23 of their own to take home the victory, Golden State’s sixth consecutive victory over the Pistons.

Up next for the Warriors, three games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for first in the Pacific Division standings, is a trip to the United Airlines Center in Chicago for a Wednesday night showdown with the Chicago Bulls. The six game road trip also includes stops in New York, Toronto, Indiana and Boston.