OAKLAND — In the closing seconds of the third quarter on Monday night, Kevin Durant dribbled up the floor, spotted Ian Clark standing all alone at the 3-point line and dished a pass to the reserve guard.
Just before the clock hit 0.0, Clark’s shot went down and the crowd at Oracle Arena erupted.
Clark’s 3-pointer, which pulled the Golden State Warriors to within a point of the Atlanta Hawks at 80-81, served as a wake-up call for a team that had underwhelmed all night up to that moment.
It was the start of an 11-0 run for the Warriors, who got past the Hawks 105-100 for their 12th win in a row.
“I didn’t think tonight was a great performance, but it was a good effort after that uneven [start],” said head coach Steve Kerr. “The first half was rough and the second half was a real grind, but I liked the fact that we really fought and competed.”
Even as the Warriors began the fourth quarter with a surge, the Hawks refused to go away. With 55 seconds to go, the visitors had the ball as the Warriors clung to a 104-99 lead.
Hawks guard Dennis Schroder, who led the visitors with 24 points careened into the lane. That’s when Green blanketed Schroder and redirected his shot with a vicious block. Green also swatted Kent Bazemore on the next possession as he ended the night with four blocks.
“That was amazing,” Kerr said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a sequence like that.”
“[It was] just an incredible defensive sequence,” Kerr added. “Draymond is amazing. He literally can guard anybody in the league [from] Dwight Howard to Schroder to everybody else in between.”
As Green sat at the podium following the win — still decked out in his white Golden State jersey — the forward wore a grin ear-to-ear.
“You’ve always got to get stops to close the game out,” Green said. “When you can be in the middle of it — and try to create some havoc for the other team — it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Green, who returned to the lineup after missing Saturday night’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with an injured left ankle, was especially thrilled because both blocks had bounced off the opposition.
“I love those because it’s like a double slap in the face,” Green explained. “Like you get your shot blocked, but whatever. You get the ball back or your teammate gets the ball. But when you get the shot blocked and it goes off you out of bounds? It’s pretty funny. So, I like those. They’re pretty cool.”
Facing a Hawks team that was playing the second leg of a back-to-back, the Warriors endured an ugly start to the night.
“We had maybe three minutes of good defense in the first half,” Kerr said. “We just weren’t ready to play. We looked like the team on back-to-back. Not them.”
Even after enjoying a 15-1 run in the middle of the first quarter, the Warriors entered the half trailing the Hawks 53-50 as a result of committing 11 turnovers.
Beginning with the third quarter, the Warriors were far more under control, totaling just three turnovers.
“I just felt like in the second half we locked down defensively and we took care of the ball,” Kerr said. “Often, that’s your best defense — just taking care of the ball.”
The Warriors early 15-1 run in the first quarter coincided with the introduction of Andre Iguodala to the game. The veteran forward ended the game with 12 points, five assists, five rebounds and a team-high plus-minus of +18.
“Andre is such an unsung guy for us,” Kerr said. “The other guys get the credit. Andre doesn’t have big numbers, but he’s such a great basketball player. Just what he sees on the floor at both ends, his awareness and understanding of the game. We’re really lucky to have him.”