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There’s a saying that every team in the NBA makes a run. And on Friday night, the Golden State Warriors actually made a couple runs to slice into an 18-point third-quarter deficit against the Sacramento Kings.
But each time, the Kings responded and it looked like they were going to hold off the hard-charging Warriors, who closed to within one with eight minutes to go but just couldn’t get over the hump.
Trailing by seven again with five minutes to play, Stephen Curry hit a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game. Ime Udoka then made one of two free throws with 4:37 to play to make it a five-point game. And then, like so many teams have done to the Warriors in the closing minutes this season, Golden State actually went on a decisive 12-0 run to pull out a 108-101 victory.
See also: Randolph injury overshadows win
Here’s a synopsis of how the Warriors went from trailing 99-94 to leading 106-99 with only 12 seconds left.
Defense: During the 12-0 run, the Kings came up empty on nine straight possessions. The Warriors forced five turnovers in that span — three steals, a shot-clock violation and an offensive foul. Monta Ellis had two steals, Curry had one and the team played tremendous defense to force a 24-second violation with the Kings up 99-98 with 3:06 left. They also forced the Kings to shoot 0-for-4 from the field.
Rebounding: The Kings, who had 13 offensive rebounds in the game, did not get a single one during the final four minutes. The Kings built their big lead on the strength of rebounding and second chances. At times, there were no Warriors around to even contest a rebound as the Kings won the battle on the glass 47-39. But not when it mattered most. Corey Maggette, who had eight rebounds in the game, snagged two of the misses while Ellis and Curry, the small guards who are supposed to be a liability at the end of games, grabbed one each. Ronny Turiaf added an offensive rebound in the run, but it didn’t turn into points.
Star power: Ellis and Maggette have been carrying the Warriors’ offense for about a month now and Friday was no different. During the final run, Ellis contributed four points, two steals, a rebound and an assist. Maggette chipped in four points and two rebounds. Curry, climbing the charts of the top rookies, had one point, one rebound, one assist and one steal in the run. When it became crunch time, the Warriors’ three biggest stars stepped up to the challenge.
The fourth wheel: Ellis, Maggette and Curry have been consistently strong for weeks now, waiting for a fourth player to step up and provide some help. Enter, Anthony Morrow, who had been quiet the entire night, missing his only two field-goal attempts. But with the Warriors clinging to a one-point lead with just under a minute to play, Ellis drove toward the basket, the defense collapsed and Ellis passed the ball to the open man. And Morrow, without hesitation or thought, drained the 3-pointer that made it 103-99 with 49 seconds to play.
And just like that, the Warriors had their second straight win, this one in dramatic fashion.
More notes on the comeback:
— The Warriors were down 76-58 with 6:35 left in the third quarter. They outscored the Kings 50-25 the rest of the way.
— Ellis and Maggette combined for 32 of the Warriors’ final 50 points, meaning the Golden State duo outscored the entire Sacramento team 32-25 over the final 18 minutes.
— Ellis opened the fourth quarter with a personal 7-0 run to cut a 10-point deficit down to three in a matter of 63 seconds.
— Then, all of a sudden, the Warriors lost patience and wanted to win the game right there at the start of the fourth quarter. Ellis took a couple long jumpers early in the shot clock, C.J. Watson threw the ball away and Morrow took a bad 3-pointer while covered after a couple pump fakes failed to generate any space.
— Down seven, Curry nailed that big 3-pointer to make it 98-94. The kid has been on fire from long range and has made 21 of his last 38 (55.3 percent) 3-pointers over his last 10 games while shooting nearly 60 percent overall in his last five. Those early season shooting woes seem long a distant memory.
— Ellis, who finished with 39 points, six assists and four rebounds, nearly outscored the Kings all by himself in the fourth quarter. He scored 14 in the final quarter. The Kings scored 15, which was their season low for points in any one quarter.
— Ellis has now scored 30 or more points in eight of the last 11 games.
— Maggette, who has been scorching from the field but struggled with a 6-of-16 shooting night, still scored 24 points thanks to a 12-of-14 night from the line in 43 minutes. That gives him five straight games of 20 or more points and 12 in the last 13.
— The Warriors’ bench, one of the most productive in the league all season despite the lack of bodies, contributed only 19 points. Vladimir Radmanovic won’t shoot. Watson suddenly can’t shoot. And Morrow seems confused about when to shoot. Those things need to get worked out.
— Turiaf only had eight points and three rebounds as the starting center. But he also had four blocks, which are crucial because having that defensive safety at the rim allows the Warriors to overplay passing lanes and go for steals that turn into easy baskets. The Warriors are not good in traditional half-court defense, but they lead the league in steals and recorded 11 more Friday and scored 32 fastbreak points. Turiaf’s four blocks erased eight sure points. The Warriors won by seven.
— For most of the early part of the game, the team in purple dominated inside and was the much bigger and better team. That’s something we usually say about the Lakers, not the Kings.
— The Andres Nocioni hard foul on Maggette was not as bad as it looked. It’s just that Warriors fans are used to seeing touch fouls against the opposition that do nothing except create three-point plays. Nocioni wasn’t going to let Maggette score a layup and tried to wrap him up. It was a hard foul, but a fair foul. It’s a foul the Warriors should try to emulate.
— The Warriors are now 7-7 at home and have won four of their last seven overall. They’ve won two straight for the third time this year and will go for their first three-game winning streak on Monday, but it won’t be easy as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town for game two of a seven-game homestand.