BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Pushed to the limit by a game Miami squad locked in a battle for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Warriors staged their largest comeback of the year to pull out a 120-118 win over the Heat at Oracle Arena Sunday night.
Golden State came out cold, falling behind 26-7 before rallying to close the gap to ten points by the end of the first quarter and finally tying the game for the first time with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
The game was in doubt until the final minute. Dwyane Wade, in his final visit to Oracle before retiring, blocked a Kevin Durant shot to start a fast break and scored on an outlet pass seconds later to put the Heat up 116-115 with 55 seconds remaining.
Miami’s Josh Richardson then stole the ball from Draymond Green to increase the lead to three, but Durant came back to pop a 26 footer for three to tie the game.
Still the game remained up for grabs until the closing seconds as DeMarcus Cousins drained a pair of free throws with only five seconds left on the clock to create the final margin, before the Heat’s Dion Waiters missed a long three that would’ve given Miami the win just before the final buzzer.
Rebounding was a large part of the problem for the Warriors. Miami dominated the boards by a 52-36 margin, holding the Warriors to a season low total.
The Warriors big three of Durant, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry combined for 93 points, Durant led the way with 39 on 15-22 shooting from the field, including 25 in the second half. Thompson added 29 while Curry tallied 25. Green contributed a season-high tying 14 assists.
Richardson paced Miami with a career high 37 points that included 8-11 shooting from three point range. Dion Waiters added a season high 24 while Justice Winslow tallied 22. Hassan Whiteside aided the Heat’s solid effort with 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Wade bid the Bay Area farewell with a ten point, six rebound, nine assist effort.
After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about the close call and the comeback. ““We warned our guys before the game about what a tough team this is to play. Miami, every year, no matter what their roster looks like, they’re one of the best defensive clubs and most disciplined clubs. They just compete and they play hard.”
Commenting on the shooting of Golden State’s Durant and Thompson he added, “Kevin carried us for much of that game. He was tremendous. Huge three down the stretch and several big shots in the fourth. Klay, I thought, carried us early in that fourth quarter. We weren’t playing very well, but he made a few big shots just to keep the momentum going. That’s who they are. There is a reason why they are all going to Charlotte next week for the All-Star Game.”
The Warriors improved to 40-15 overall and 21-7 at home this season with their 15th win in their past 16 games. Golden State also became the first team in the Western Conference to crack the 40 win mark.
Golden State improved to 8-0 in games featuring the starting lineup of Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Andre Iguodala was a late scratch as he continues to experience tightness in his left hamstring after tweaking it Friday night in Phoenix.
Jersey No.16 was retired by the Warriors on this date in 1977 in honor of Al Attles. Attles played with the Philadelphia and San Francisco Warriors from 1960-1971, and has been affiliated with the franchise as a coach, general manager and Ambassador ever since.
Draymond Green set a franchise record with 10 steals on this date in 2017. Green became the first player in NBA history to notch a triple-double without a double-digit point total, adding 10 assists and 10 rebounds. He also had five blocks.