The power failed and the lights went out, but that didn’t stop the Warriors from lighting up the scoreboard on March 20, 2009. Wait, where are you going? Come back. That’s the last wretched light failure joke, promise.
Outside of the light failure, this was a classic spoiler game for a Warriors team (then at 25-44) destined to draft Stephen Curry in the upcoming NBA Draft. There were double-digit scoring contributions for six players, with Brandan Wright (25 points on 10-of-13, 5-of-5 on FT) and Monta Ellis (21 points 8-of-13, 1-of-1 from 3-pt, 4-of-4 on FT) crossing the 20-point threshold.
This was an up-and-coming Sixers team that would find itself in the unfortunate spot of running up against the Finals-bound, No. 3 seed Magic in the first round of the playoffs.
It featured a second-year Thaddeus Young, averaging 15 and 5, the steady-handed, and always-underrated Andre Miller (16.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists), an Elton Brand (mostly injured that year) and Samuel Dalembert front court, with three above average bench options of Willie Green, a 21-year-old Marreese Speights and a 22-year-old Lou Williams (who was just as gifted a scorer off the bench then as he is now).
Oh, and Andre Iguodala.
This was Iguodala’s team, in it’s second full season after the 2006 Allen Iverson trade to the Denver Nuggets for Miller, Joe Smith, and two 2007 first-round draft picks which became Daequan Cook and Petteri Koponen (insert “YIKES” here).
The 76ers had seven players in double-digits on this Friday night, but the Warriors pulled away in the second and third quarters, leaving the final score misrepresentative of what was a fairly comfortable win.
That was in large part to Wright and Ellis, yes, but Azubuike was also startlingly efficient, with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and zero turnovers. He had a team-high plus-minus of +22. The team low? The dependably disappointing Corey Maggette, with a -6.
That’s probably too harsh on Maggette, who actually had a solid game (12 points on 5-of-9, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers).
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the eternal spark plug of Ronny Turiaf, who was a high post legend in this one, with 4 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 4 fouls (there should be a name for single-digit feats like that).
It was the bench effort from Speights and Williams that kept the Sixers afloat through the end of the first and through the second quarter (8 points from Speights, 12 points, 6 assists from Williams in the first half).
But a 10-0 run in the third quarter (two assists from Turiaf and Stephen Jackson, four points each from by Azubuike, Ellis) is what broadened a lead that seemed insurmountable for most the rest of the contest. The 76ers never got closer than 10 until the final three minutes.
The Warriors seemed like they were about to choke the game away. After leading by 18 with seven minutes left, that lead shrunk to six points with 1:52 left, thanks to five Golden State turnovers and horrendous shooting (nine points) in the final seven minutes. A couple of late Ellis scores pushed his total from 17 to 21 and the margin back to 10, but Williams finished it with a garbage time score and final line of 119-111.
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