Iguodala sinks Thunder with final shot heroics
ORACLE ARENA — The decision has been made. In the final seconds of a Warriors game, the ball will be in Andre Iguodala‘s hands.
With 2.3 seconds on the game clock in an electric, back-and-forth nationally televised game, the Thunder had possession when Russell Westbrook hit a long three to take a one-point lead.
Mark Jackson called a timeout after Westbrook (31 pts, 13-for-20 floor) hit his shot and said his team was disappointed and in a dark place:
“They were down. Upset. You look up and say, How? You start beating yourself up.”
But Jackson said they realized they still had time and he drew up a play for Iguodala. Klay Thompson inbounded to a slashing Iguodala, who hit a fade-away shot from the right corner at the buzzer to beat Oklahoma City 116-115 Thursday night.
Iguodala told SFBay that Westbrook’s shot knocked the wind out of him, but when his number was called for the play, he felt confident:
“When you execute like that, and you can read your teammates only having been here a short time that shows how high IQ basketball players we are and how much better we can become.”
An all-night offensive battle ended with the Warriors on top. Golden State shot the lights out, hitting 14 three-pointers including 10 from Splash Brothers Stephen Curry (22 pts., 8-for-22 floor) and Thompson (27 pts. 6-for-9 three-pointers).
The Warriors looked like they had things locked up in the third quarter, but the Thunder slowly came back to create a last-second frenzy.
In the first three minutes of play, Curry and Thompson hit a combined four shots from downtown. Even with an amazing Warriors shooting performance, the Thunder seemed to have an answer every possession of the first half.
The teams tied eight times and had 13 lead changes in the first half before going to the locker room knotted up 62-62.
Coming out of halftime, the Warriors seemed to take control of the game, outscoring the Thunder 35-24.
Thunder forward Kevin Durant — who ended up with a choppy 20 on 5-for-13 from the floor — took responsibility for his team slowing down in the third quarter:
“I just got to be better. No excuses. I’ve got to make shots, I’ve got to put pressure on the rim, on the defense and get to the free throw line. I just have to be better.”
With 1:23 left in the third quarter Jermaine O’Neal stole the ball, and on the other end of the floor Barnes hit a three to give Golden State its first double digit lead, 93-82.
The Thunder inched their way back into the game in the fourth quarter though, cutting the Warriors lead to three with just under three minutes regulation time remaining.
Thompson hit a jumper with just under a minute left giving the Warriors a four-point lead, but the Thunder answered again.
Even with Thompson’s outstanding shooting performance, he said he was thankful to Iguodala for making it a good night:
“I’m proud of him. It went from a terrible mood to the best mood you could have. So, I thank Andre for that.”
The final two possessions decided the game while answering any questions about whose hands the ball belongs in at the end of the game.
The night also marked O’Neal scoring his 13,000th career point. O’Neal told SFBay each point means something special, even though he doesn’t pay attention to those kind of stats and didn’t realize the milestone would be reached tonight:
“Its a blessing. I have a 14-year-old daughter, a seven-year-old son, a wonderful wife and have been able to do things that are life-changing while being the pillar for my family.”
The Warriors, now 6-3, finish their homestand Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Utah Jazz before turning around to play in Utah on Monday.
The Warriors hit 14-of-23 three-pointers, their highest three-point percentage since March 5, 2012. … The Warriors starters combined to score 79 of their 116 points, with Harrison Barnes accounting for 16 of Golden State’s 27 bench points. … The Thunder outrebounded the Warriors 48-31, the first time the Warriors lost the rebounding battle by 17-or-more and won since Christmas 2010. … Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee, all scored 20-plus, the first time all three have topped 20 points in the same game this season.