ORACLE ARENA — It really doesn’t take much this season for the Warriors to win a game.
Not playing their best, running slower than their usual speed-skating pace, and failing to close out the game with aggression, Golden State still managed to hold off a late Celtics charge to seal a 114-111 win Sunday evening.
Golden State looked sluggish all night, going on an offensive slump with the bench out of whack in the second quarter yet still heading into halftime with a seven-point lead.
Sluggish meant four Warriors in double-figures, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry with a double-double, and Klay Thompson finishing the night with 31 points in just the sixth game this season decided by five points or less against a team Steve Kerr said he knew would be hungry for a win:
“I would expect Boston to come in tonight and play very well. They’ve won a couple of road games in difficult places to play. They don’t have a great record but they’re playing at a high level. They want to come in and show us what they’re made of.”
The Warriors didn’t do anything particularly glaring, but they weren’t the textbook Warriors most are accustomed to watching this season. After the game, Kerr said at this point in the season, its just harder to stay energized for every single game:
“We just didn’t have a lot of life and legs, it’s late January, just got to fight through it … 82 games is a lot. The way we play with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy to do that 82 straight times with all that passion and fire is difficult.”
All it took was a small showcase late in the third quarter for the Warriors to show Boston what the best team in the NBA is capable of.
Playing quicker and more aggressively, the Warriors took a double-digit lead and reeled off a highlight-laden final two minutes of the third frame.
With 1:37 left in the quarter, Stephen Curry drove hard and threw down a two-handed dunk, pulling his chin to the rim as the crowd rose to their feet.
The Warriors maintained their double-digit lead through most of the final quarter, but lost composure in the final minute with turnovers and bad defense allowing the Celtics to crawl within three points with three seconds left to play.
Boston fouled immediately, sending Thompson to the line where he hit on both tries. The Warriors fouled on the other end letting Jared Sullinger keep the game within striking distance but Golden State held the ball for the final seconds and walked away with their 19th consecutive home win.
Curry said he expected the fight that Boston showed down the stretch but knew what needed to be done in order to finish them off:
“We stayed composed, did what we had to do in the third quarter to get a little bit of separation. Obviously had to hold on for dear life … but that’s just another big win to protect home court.”
The Warriors, now 36-6, finish out their five-game home stand against the 29-17 Chicago Bulls Tuesday with tip off at 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors’ 36 wins before the All-Star break is a franchise record, besting the previous 35-win mark set by the team in 1975-76 as defending NBA champions. … The starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut won its 20th consecutive game, improving to 25-1 on the season. … Klay Thompson scored 31 points on 11-of-19 from the field, the first time in his career he’s scored 30 points in consecutive games. He connected on three three-pointers, marlins his NBA-best 21st straight game with multiple threes, which is the longest such streak since Rashard Lewis hit multiple threes in 21 straight in 2008-09. … Stephen Curry recorded his NBA-leading 10th 20-point/10-assist game with 22 points and 11 assists, his 15th double-double of the season.