May 21, 2024

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — It was a wild and bizarre ending to the Golden State Warriors‘ 141-139 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

With the score tied in the final seconds, Stephen Curry worked his way around Luguentz Dort and floated toward the rim. He scooped the ball up and under, shoveling it to the basket and falling to the ground as it went in with 0.2 seconds remaining.

The bucket was initially called off for basket interference by Draymond Green. But after a review that lasted several minutes, it was determined that the Thunder’s Josh Giddey grabbed the net as the ball was coming down, resulting in goaltending. Because of that, any contact Green made with the hoop or ball didn’t matter, and the shot by Curry was good.

“Hitting the rim is not a goaltend. I did not affect the shot,” Green said. “[Referee Che Flores] said if [Giddey] touched the net and it didn’t affect the ball, it’s not a goaltend. If I touched the rim and it didn’t affect the ball, it wasn’t a goaltend. I knew I didn’t affect the ball, so I thought it was good. We got the bucket.”

Green leaned on the scorers table just yards from the refs during the review. Meanwhile, Curry stood underneath the basket waiting. Once the call was made, all of the Warriors players stormed the court, with some reserve players pulling others who weren’t actively in the game back to the bench so the game could officially end.

While Green was certain he didn’t interfere with the shot, his teammates and coaches weren’t sure what was going to happen.

“They called it no good at first … and whichever way you call it you have to have the evidence to go the other way,” Curry said. “That’s where, I guess, the doubt crept in. I couldn’t tell what camera angles we had. Thankfully they got it right.”

Curry finished with 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including five 3-pointers, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

His game-winning shot came on the heels of Klay Thompson‘s go-ahead jumper against the Sacramento Kings just two nights prior. It’s the first time in the last 25 years the Warriors won consecutive games with a game-winning field goal in the final five seconds of each game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Green said this close win was especially impressive given the Warriors’ lack of energy — highlighted by them missing their rookies who are at G League training camp — and poor defense Friday night, allowing Oklahoma to shoot 60% from the field and 51.7% from three.

Part of the reason the Warriors have continued to stay in the mix during games has been because of their second unit, headed by Chris Paul.

Paul finished Friday’s game with 13 assists and no turnovers — the most assists off the bench without a turnover by a Warriors player since 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“It’s impressive, to say the least,” Curry said. “I’m super jealous of that assist-to-turnover ratio. I’ve never had that in my life.”

A year ago, the Warriors struggled to close out most tight games. As early as it is — just six games into the season — Golden State is showing they have the playmakers to finish.

“We need to leave last year in the rearview mirror,” Kerr said. “We have a decade of experience closing games, winning close games, winning championships. Last year was the exception, this year is the rule … (this game) says we are who we are. There’s a reason these guys have hung banners and are wearing rings. They are good at this.”

Kerr has a handful of combinations he can throw out in late-game situations, picking among Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II to join the constants of Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and Chris Paul.

“It could be five different guys next game,” Kerr said. “Right now the guys are just doing a great job at supporting each other, really contributing when their chance comes and just accepting whatever decisions we make.”

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