Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) gestures after making a 3-point basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at Chase Center in San Francisco on Fri Mar 24, 2023 (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
In the words of former sportscaster Dick Enberg “My oh my, what a game.” The Golden State Warriors (39-36) had their most impressive win of the year as they beat the visiting Philadelphia 76ers (49-24) Friday night at the Chase Center 120-112. In a race with the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers came to town having won 17 of the last 20 road games.
The Warriors, winners of the last two games on the road, were hoping to win their third game in a row. The Sixers’ James Harden would not play Friday night. Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II were not available either. The Warriors had to find a way to stop the Sixers’ big man, Joel Embiid.
The game was a nip-and-tuck affair for most of the game. Neither team would give an inch. The Sixers’ biggest lead in the game was five points until late in the third quarter.
The Warriors were up seven early in the second quarter. The Sixers’ defense, the best in the league against the three-point shot, would be a test for the Warriors, the best three-point shooting team in the NBA. The game was a nail-biter, but the Warriors’ offense, behind Jordan Poole’s 19 points in the fourth quarter, produced the win for Golden State.
Both teams played defense in the first half. Joel Embiid was tough to guard. The big man bulled his way to the rim. The Warriors Kevon Looney, four inches shorter than Embiid, could not stop him. Embiid also went to the free throw several times.
The Sixers won the first quarter 27-23. The Warriors outscored the Sixers 32-26 in the second quarter to finish the first half with a slim two-point advantage, 55-53. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 14. The second-leading scorer was JaMychal Green with ten. Embiid led the Sixers with 19. Tobias Harris had 15, and Tyrese Maxey ten. The Warriors’ bench outscored the Sixer bench 25-5.
The lead changed several times in the third period. The Warriors led 78-76 after Jordan Poole made a four-point play. The Sixers got hot and went on a 12-1 run to finish the third quarter with a nine-point lead, 88-79.
The Warriors’ offense came to life in the fourth quarter. The Warriors went on a 14-5 run to get within two, 93-91. Poole scored seven during the run. The Sixers fought back and led 100-93. The Warriors kept fouling Embiid, and Embiid kept making free throws.
Poole and Klay Thompson made threes to get within three, 102-99. Kevon Looney made a big bucket. The Sixers answered. Klay Thompson knocked down another three to tie the game 104-104. The game was tied thrice at 16, 108, and 110. Curry put the Warriors ahead for good 112-110. Poole connected on a three. Poole had 19 points in the fourth quarter. Curry scored the last five points of the game for The Warriors.
Game Notes: With the win, the Warriors are now 39-36. They won their third straight. The Sixers dropped to 49-24.
The Warriors are 31-7 at the Chase Center. The Warriors are 23-3 when they hold the opposition to 115 points or less. The Warriors outscored the Sixers 41-24 in the fourth quarter. The Warriors defense rose to the occasion.
Poole led the Warriors with 33 points. He made six threes. 19 of his 33 came in the fourth quarter. Curry knocked down 29. Thompson had 21. Thompson made six threes. Draymond Green had a double-double with ten points and ten assists. He recorded seven rebounds.
Looney had his hands full guarding Embiid. Looney had six points, ten rebounds, and seven assists. The Warriors’ bench outscored the Sixers’ bench 54-14.
Embbid led the Sixers with 46 points. Embiid made 19 free throws in 22 tries. Tobias Harris had 23, and Tyrese Maxey finished with 21.
The Warriors meet the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night at the Chase Center. The Wolves’ big guy, Karl-Anthony Towns, will be in the lineup. The Warriors’ Gary Payton II may be cleared to return to the team on Sunday. The game will start at 5:30 pm.