The Warriors ensured they will play at least one more game at Oracle Arena this season after overcoming an eight point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the San Antonio Spurs 97-87 in overtime on Sunday.
With Stephen Curry hobbled by a sore ankle, the Warriors relied on their defense to hold the Spurs at bay, going on a 9-0 run to start overtime before San Antonio was able to answer. They scored only two points over the last 3:44 of regulation, as the Warriors closed out the game on a 19-5 run.
Rookie forward Harrison Barnes had a career-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds, keeping the game close until Jarrett Jack caught fire in the fourth quarter, when he scored eight of his 24 points. Curry pitched in 22 points despite the troublesome ankle.
Despite the career night on offense, Barnes said it was the other side of the court that was most memorable.
“I think the biggest thing for me personally was the defense that we played in the second half,” he said. “The first half I thought our coaches gave us great game plan discipline and we just didn’t put forth the effort. For the second half and overtime we were able to kind of correct that. I take a lot of pride in that personally.”
On a night where the Warriors shot only 38 percent from the field, they made sure the Spurs shot even worse, holding them to 35.5 percent for the game, an unusual performance for a team known to the world at large as a fast-paced scoring machine.
Once the shots were missed, the Warriors made sure they didn’t waste the opportunity, as they outrebounded the Spurs 65-51, led by 18 from center Andrew Bogut.
“It shows we don’t have to lean on our offense,” Jack said. “We’re a team that’s not dependent on one particular area to be successful.”
Warriors coach Mark Jackson admitted things looked grim for his team down the stretch in a game where he knew Curry was not at full strength, forcing his players to adapt their game plan.
“Steph was more of a stationary guy most of the night, and we needed our wing players to be aggressive,” he said. “Harrison did a great job of being aggressive. We put him in pick and roll situations when they switched we put the ball in his hands and he made some big time plays. The guy has grown up before our very eyes.”
The win makes this the first time the Warriors have won two games in the second round of the playoffs since 1977, when they lost 4-3 to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The series now moves to San Antonio on Tuesday, with Game 6 scheduled for Thursday at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors’ only all-star was not supposed to return to the court after tearing a hip flexor in the first game of the playoffs.
David Lee surprised everyone by playing just over a minute in Game 6 of the Warriors first round win over the Denver Nuggets, then appeared again for three minutes in Game 3 of the series with the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
Sunday marked the first time he entered a game twice since the injury, logging eight minutes in which he grabbed five rebounds to go with one steal.
Coach Mark Jackson said he doesn’t expect the progression of playing time to get to extreme, though being at this point at all threw some question into that idea.
“I don’t expect him to play 30 minutes at any point in these playoffs,” he said. “That being said, I didn’t expect him to play at all, so I’m not going to put any expectations on a miracle.”
He did say he wanted to limit the big man’s role when he was on the floor, including staying away from guarding Spurs forward Tim Duncan, something Lee did not exactly stick to Sunday.
Lee found himself guarding Duncan just a few possessions into his first appearance, clapping his hands in anticipation once the future hall of famer got the ball. To his credit, he played Duncan physical and forced a miss six feet from the basket.
Jackson said Lee will continue to receive treatment and will be called upon to contribute in any way he can going forward.