Talk about exhilarating relief. Tuesday’s 112-103 comeback victory over the Raptors was thrilling, chilling and it narrowly escaped being heartbreakingly deflating.
Sometimes you lose games you’re supposed to win, and this certainly had the look of one of those games. The Warriors fell behind early and for two and a half quarters their performance was downright disappointing. Their execution was poor and they were being thoroughly outplayed by a team that had been four games under .500 and losers of three straight games. When the Warriors showed signs of getting back into the game in the second quarter, Steve Novak responded with three 3-pointers in a span of 90 seconds. To Toronto’s credit, they took what usually is a raucous Oracle Arena crowd out of the game. The energy just wasn’t there for the Warriors, but then halftime happened.
"Jermaine O'Neal gave one of the realest speeches I've ever heard,” Klay Thompson said. “Honestly, that was our turning point. It wasn't in the fourth quarter. It wasn't in the third quarter. It was at halftime."
But the Warriors didn’t exactly get off to a blistering start in the third quarter. The Raptors scored the first 10 points of the second half and the Warriors suddenly trailed by 27 points. Game over, right?
Under normal circumstances, that probably would be the case, but the Warriors still had something left, and the #DubNation faithful wouldn’t let their team go down without a fight. Even when trailing by 20-plus points, the crowd was in the game and starting organic chants of DE-FENSE. A monumental deficit on a frigid Tuesday night in December, not exactly the making of an electric atmosphere, but the scene on #WarriorsGround was very much reminiscent of that of the playoffs last spring. No exaggeration here, the crowd was literally on its feet for just about all of the fourth quarter, and the Warriors’ play on the court suddenly became worthy of that type of reaction.
A 9-0 Warriors run to end the third quarter foreshadowed what was to come, but the team still found itself trailing by 18 to start the final period. What happened next was absolutely absurd.
The Warriors scored on their first seven possessions of the fourth quarter. And after three turnovers in a little more than two minutes, the Dubs had four-straight possessions that resulted in 3-pointers by Thompson and Stephen Curry. Thompson splashed home the first and last treys of that sequence, the latter of which put the Warriors ahead for good with 2:28 left in the game.
All told, the Warriors scored on all but five of their 22 possessions in the fourth quarter, and one of those possessions was pretty much a throw-away as the Warriors ran the clock out after Marreese Speights secured a defensive rebound in the waning seconds. To put that in perspective, the Warriors averaged 1.9 points per possession in the fourth quarter on Tuesday, nearly double the league-leading Rockets' 1.1 points per possession.
“We just seemed a step slow in everything we did and then in the fourth quarter we started to get stop after stop and play unselfishly on offense,” David Lee said. “Everyone contributed that was in there. Just really proud of the team for coming back and this will be a victory that we remember.”
Some more notes and numbers from the fourth quarter for the statistically inclined …
- The Warriors went 8-for-11 on 3-pointers in the period, including 4-of-5 by Thompson and 2-of-2 by Curry
- Curry scored or assisted on 28 of the team’s last 31 points
- The Warriors’ 42 points in the period marked the second highest-scoring fourth quarter in the NBA this season
- The Warriors out-rebounded Toronto 14-1 in the fourth quarter. The Raptors did not have a defensive rebound in the period.
What happened on #WarriorsGround on Tuesday was certainly miraculous. Whether or not the significance of it stretches beyond one game in the standings will be determined in the weeks and months ahead, but one thing that cannot be debated is it was a truly wild and crazy night, and one that fans, players and coaches won’t soon forget.
Relive the excitement of the Dubs' epic comeback through our social recap below:
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Golden State Warriors.