With 5:49 left in Wednesday night’s game, Jordan Poole missed an open 3-pointer in semi-transition. The Warriors were up five points, searching for a surge that would break the game open.
Then, just as fast as Poole’s shot went up, Golden State’s run arrived. Juan Toscano-Anderson soared in from the corner, corralling Poole’s misfire with two hands and slamming it back down.
He waved his arms to egg on the Chase Center crowd, and some faint “J-T-A” broke out.
Shortly after, Toscano-Anderson found Gary Payton II underneath for a dunk. The forward curled his fingers into circles and made them goggles as 76ers coach Doc Rivers called timeout.
At that point, the Warriors led 100-91. The team that trailed by as much as 19 only poured it on from there and won by 20.
Jolted by Toscano-Anderson’s (13 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds) energy, the Warriors fought off a slow start, foul trouble from Draymond Green, and a 24-point performance from Seth Curry to erase a major deficit and cruise to another win, 116-96.
Thursday’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie will taste a bit sweeter, as the Warriors enter the holiday with five straight wins and at an NBA-best 16-2.
“The last thing you want to do is sit on a loss on a holiday,” Steve Kerr said pregame.
Here are three takeaways from Golden State’s latest victory, a comeback win over Philadelphia:
Their father, Dell, was in Orlando to broadcast the Hornets-Magic game, but Stephen and Seth Curry battled it out in the Chase Center in front of their mom, Sonya.
Stephen has called his younger brother one of the toughest defenders he’s had to play against. They know each other’s games as well as anyone, and Seth can often anticipate Steph’s moves.
Steph still found some ways to get loose. He must’ve broken out a new off-ball movement when he shook his brother to get wide open for a first-quarter 3-pointer.
But that play was an exception. Steph’s play early in the game was marked by careless turnovers. The 76ers have a plethora of stout perimeter defenders — Seth, Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, Tyrese Maxey — to take him out of his rhythm. Green stole one of his passes in the backcourt. Thybulle tipped another and altered a 3. Seth chased him around, step-by-step.
And on the other end, Seth created space. He’s earned a spot in Philadelphia’s starting rotation this year, while putting up 50-40-90 splits.
Seth lost Draymond Green on the perimeter with a hesitation dribble before banking in a floater over Nemanja Bjelica. The threat of his 3-point shot allowed him to scoop in an and-1 through Kevon Looney in the second quarter.
The fraternal duel between Seth and Steph only heated up as the game progressed. Despite struggling from deep, Seth dropped 24 points on 16 shots. Steph’s late 3 gave him a slight edge with 25.
While it never got to the level of Game 2 of the 2019 Western Conference Finals, when they combined for 53, each brother led their team in scoring.
First half sleepwalking
Hours before Wednesday’s late-night tipoff, the Warriors canceled their regularly scheduled shootaround. The trend around the league is to practice less in order, emphasizing player health. But early on, the Warriors looked like a team that could’ve used a little bit more of a warmup.
The Warriors are 28th in the league in opponent points per game in first quarters, indicating GSW may tend to ease into games.
On Wednesday, the league’s stingiest defense was tardy. Golden State allowed 34 points in the first quarter — nearly 37, but Danny Green’s last second 3 was waved off — and fell behind by 11.
GSW’s defensive breakdowns appeared mostly individual, with Philadelphia slashers driving into the paint too easily. On one play, Otto Porter Jr. had Furkan Korkmaz pinned on the baseline with a dead dribble. But Korkmaz maintained his pivot foot, spun around Porter Jr. and flipped in a layup.
Draymond Green, tabbed as the best defender in the world by Kerr and himself, picked up two early fouls which certainly didn’t help.
Green committed two more in the second quarter, and the Warriors looked just as stuck in mud. The 76ers grew their lead to 19.
But a quick 7-0 burst late in the half, then Jordan Poole’s banked buzzer beater from halfcourt ignited Golden State.
While they can start slow, the Warriors are exceptional in the third quarter, when they’ve outscored opponents by an average of 7.4 points — by far the best mark in the league. Vaunted Warriors third quarters are back, and GSW erased its nine-point halftime deficit with a three-minute 14-2 burst jolted by an intensified defensive effort and more assertive Andrew Wiggins.
Veteran forward Andre Iguodala missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury, and Kerr ruled him out for Friday, too.
Depth has been one of the Warriors’ greatest strengths so far, but who steps up can vary game by game. Against Philadelphia, it was Otto Porter Jr. and Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Porter Jr. kept Golden State’s offense above water in the first half with three 3-pointers, then hit a fourth to give the Warriors a 94-88 edge with 8:52 left in the game.
The wing was hitting 41.5% of his 3-pointers entering Wednesday and was fresh off a 5-for-9 showing against Toronto. Porter Jr.’s been steady all season; he was one of several offseason moves that continues to fit this roster significantly cleaner than some of last season’s pieces.
Porter Jr. was far from alone, though.
Early in the fourth quarter, Toscano-Anderson finished an and-1 inside off an inbounds pass from Curry. After the ball bounced around the rim and eventually dropped in, Curry threw his hands up and jumped up and down.
Later, he faked a handoff to Curry, took center Andre Drummond off the dribble and threw down a right-handed jam. Drummond sat on the bench for the last 6:50 of the game after that.
Then came the putback dunk and the assist to Payton II. Toscano-Anderson was also on the receiving end of a Georges Niang shove that only invigorated Golden State further. A steal-and-score with 2:10 put the Warriors up 16.
Toscano-Anderson finished the game with a +21 plus-minus, third behind only Steph and Wiggins. Porter Jr. dropped 12 points in 20 minutes.
The Warriors are relentless. With a seemingly bottomless arsenal of reserves, they just keep coming and keep coming. As Golden State’s energy persisted, Philadelphia wore down.