In a jaw-dropping showdown that could easily pass as a playoff game, the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder went head-to-head in the first-ever In-Season Tournament opener. The result? A heart-stopping 141-139 victory for the Warriors, clinched by none other than the legendary Stephen Curry, who nailed a last-second layup with a mere 0.2 seconds left on the clock. The intensity, the drama, and the sheer passion on display made this game a spectacular start to the tournament.
Curry’s Heroic Layup and the Controversial Call:
The defining moment of this contest arrived in the dying seconds, with Curry’s final shot initially deemed null and void due to an offensive goaltending call against Draymond Green. However, in a dramatic twist, the call was overturned, much to the elation of the Warriors and their fans. Green explained that the call was changed because he touched the rim and not the ball, a detail that led to the climactic reversal. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault concurred with this explanation, marking the pivotal moment that swung the game in the Warriors’ favor.
Green’s Praise for the In-Season Tournament:
In the aftermath of this exhilarating clash, Draymond Green couldn’t help but shower praise on the In-Season Tournament concept. He marveled at the intensity and competitive spirit that characterized the game, likening it to a playoff atmosphere. In his words, the NBA
has certainly created something remarkable with this initiative. “You just saw two teams competing,” he said, “We talk about this In-Season Tournament, and — it’s a playoff game. It was a fun game to play, and the intensity level is there. So job well done to the NBA, having this type of excitement in November. Because there can be some dark days in November. But games like this? You can appreciate them.”
Thunder’s Crowd and Resilience:
The crowd at the arena added to the electrifying atmosphere, especially when it came to contentious foul calls involving Draymond Green. Despite the occasional hostility, Green expressed his love for playing in this arena, attributing it to the passionate and engaged crowd. He emphasized that the fans in Oklahoma City consistently bring their A-game, creating a fun and energetic environment for players.
Dario Saric, Chris Paul, and Klay Thompson were instrumental in the Warriors’ triumph. Saric scored 20 points, while Paul orchestrated the offense with 13 assists and no turnovers. Klay Thompson, who recently made a triumphant return, secured another last-second victory for the Warriors. On the Thunder’s side, Lu Dort shone with 29 points, sinking all six of his 3-point attempts, while Chet Holmgren and Josh Giddey contributed significantly to the team’s effort.
A Nail-Biter From Start to Finish:
The game began with both teams trading blows from beyond the arc, exemplifying the modern NBA’s love affair with the three-pointer. The first quarter concluded with the Warriors holding a slim 38-33 lead, fueled by Dario Saric’s 11 points as a reserve. As the game progressed, the intensity only grew, and the second quarter ended with the Warriors narrowly leading 69-67.
The second quarter concluded with a controversial moment when Klay Thompson’s leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer, which would have extended the Warriors’ lead, was initially ruled no good. Despite a review, the ruling stood, leaving fans on the edge of their seats.
Thunder’s Strong Third Quarter:
Lu Dort came alive in the third quarter, single-handedly propelling the Thunder to an 85-80 lead by scoring 11 points in just over four minutes. However, the Warriors mounted a comeback, and the game was tied at 106 heading into the fourth quarter.
A Missed Opportunity for the Thunder:
Oklahoma City fought valiantly and came tantalizingly close to pulling off an upset. “For the most part, we gave ourselves every chance to win that game,” noted Josh Giddey. However, they fell just short, and the Warriors emerged victorious in this thrilling tournament opener.
In a contest that will be remembered for its heart-stopping finish and playoff-level intensity, the Golden State Warriors triumphed over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the In-Season Tournament opener. Stephen Curry’s heroics and the controversial call that decided the game added to the drama. This game exemplified the excitement and passion that the tournament aims to bring to the NBA’s early-season landscape, giving fans a taste of what’s to come as the season unfolds. It was a battle that showcased the very essence of basketball at its finest, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the next chapter in this exhilarating tournament.