Kids, don’t ever let your parents tell you procrastination doesn’t have its benefits. Down 17 with six minutes to go, with both subpar offense and defense, it appeared Thursday night’s Game 3 just wasn’t in the cards for the Golden State Warriors.
Especially with these late night Western Conference games, it’s enticing to capitalize on the chance to write a recap when the game is in hand. As Game 1 showed, it’s not that uncommon to see the trailing team make a late push to at least get some good vibes going for the next game in the series. The Warriors had gone on an 11-2 run, but an Anthony Davis putback had the Pelicans comfortably up 105-95 with three minutes remaining.
Still, I resisted beginning the recap. Too many crazy things have happened over the course of history. Heck, just a couple hours earlier, the Bulls had frittered away a commanding lead against Milwaukee and needed two overtimes to seal the deal.
Down to six with two minutes remaining. “Uh oh,” Basketball Twitter collectively uttered, in fear for the Pelicans and their fans. Still, Golden State needed some threes and they simply weren’t falling. Much of the comeback came via second chance points from pounding the glass, not a flurry of shots from downtown.
Stephen Curry misses a three. Draymond Green putback. 105-101, 1:40 to go.
Over a minute goes by, marked by Klay Thompson and Eric Gordon trading missed threes. New Orleans benefits though, as they lead 107-102 with 17.4 seconds remaining.
Curry finally hits from beyond the arc, cutting the deficit to a mere two, and Davis heads to the stripe to clinch the franchise’s first playoff win since becoming the Pelicans.
He misses the first, ensuring the Warriors will get a chance to tie. It’s as if we’re reliving a game that hasn’t happened yet. “You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability…”
Davis does convert the second for a three point lead. Down to their last possession, everyone knows who’s shooting.
The sports equivalent of Bob Barker pressing the button to reveal “Hole in One” is actually “Hole in Two,” this was the only appropriate reaction by that point:
Overtime was close, except it felt like a foregone conclusion, especially after Curry kicked it off with yet another three. Davis was great again, compiling 29 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in Game 3, joining Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard as the only big men this decade to play 45 minutes in consecutive playoff games. It just wasn’t enough as, similar to Game 2, the minutes seemed to wear on him late in the fourth and in overtime. Curry would later put the finishing touches on his epic by hitting free throws to ice it, finishing with 40 points and nine assists.
Final score: Warriors 123, Pelicans 119.
New Orleans had a 19-0 run in the first half in which they shot nearly 60 percent, buoyed by 32 points in the paint. It was the Pelicans’ supporting cast that came alive after Golden State’s had provided a big boost in Game 2, led by Ryan Anderson’s fantastic game of 26 points on 10-14 from the floor. The Warriors went into the fourth quarter with no more than four points from anyone who wasn’t a Splash Brother. Green, whose all-around impact was a huge key to the comeback, had been in foul trouble all night, and was so frustrated by his sixth foul in overtime that he ran from halfcourt into the tunnel by the Golden State bench. Gordon had a look late in overtime for New Orleans on a three to put the Pelicans back in the lead.
History will remember none of those things. The games all blend together eventually. The famous Clippers comeback over the Grizzlies boils down to Nick Young going on a hot streak. Only total NBA junkies and fans of the Pacers and Knicks can recall the other key moments of Reggie Miller’s eight points in nine seconds.
Curry’s foot being on the line on his first attempt to tie it will be remembered. Marreese Speights getting the rebound and providing just enough cover for Curry to get a look over Davis in the corner will be remembered. Curry potentially closing his eyes on said shot will be remembered.
All hail Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter of a basketball on the planet, and potentially ever. Turns out even the best need a second chance sometimes.