OAKLAND -- Over the course of a long and successful season, and NBA seasons are long no matter how strong, there will be nights when even the brightest of stars must make room on the marquee for the guys on the bench.
As much as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson did Thursday night, combining for 54 points, the Warriors likely would not have pulled out a 121-106 victory over Oklahoma City without superb performances from reserves Shaun Livingston and Marreese Speights.
“On a consistent basis, you want your core to show up every single night and do what it’s supposed to do,” Curry said. “But we’re not (55-5) without everybody contributing. That’s what we’re about.”
Speights played only 12 minutes, but scored 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers -- one in the second quarter to give the Warriors a six-point lead and another during the 19-3 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
“Mo is instant offense for us,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s hitting 3s now, which is fantastic. He also made a brilliant full-court football pass.
“I could go down the list. Shaun Livingston had 11 points and eight assists and no turnovers. Andre (Iguodala) gave us what he could on (Kevin) Durant and he helped. Everybody played well.”
What Speights started against the Thunder Livingston finished. He was the only Warrior to play all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, during which he submitted six points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds.
“It’s just one play at a time, lock in defensively,” Livingston said. “It’s a long game and we’ve been in tight situations, so it’s trying to, again, stick to the game plan and be solid, not try to get it back at once and instead just try to extend the game out.”
Livingston not only delivered on offense, but also assumed greater than usual responsibility defending the 6-foot-10 Durant. With a tight hamstring limiting Iguodala to 14 minutes, it fell to the 6-foot-7 Livingston to join Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Thompson in the defensive rotation on Durant.
Durant got off only three shots in fourth quarter, which surely pleased general manager Bob Myers and Kerr.
“When we signed him, Bob and I did a lot of research and watched some tape and talked to his former coaches,” Kerr said of Livingston, “and found that he guarded Durant quite a bit in the past. That’s one of the reasons we liked him, because of his length and intelligence. He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve been around.”
The Warriors were down 80-71 late in the third quarter before going on the decisive run that yielded an 89-83 lead with 10:52 left to play. They owned the fourth quarter, with a 39-23 advantage over OKC, which played Wednesday in Los Angeles.
“We know that we can score in bunches, so we feel like we’re never out of a game,” Green said. “There’s no need to panic.”
Much of that confidence stems from the presence of Curry, who was listed on the injury list as “questionable” with a twisted left ankle and didn’t decide to play until after warming up a little more than an hour before tipoff.
He scored a game-high 33 points -- his fifth consecutive game with at least 30 points -- including 11 in seven minutes to close it out in the fourth.
“I didn’t feel it much at all; that was kind of the criteria for me getting out there,” Curry said of the ankle. “I know if I felt it, there’s opportunity for it to regress. I didn’t want to go through that process.”
Neither do the Warriors, who fully understand how important Curry has been to their winning 55 of the first 60 games this season. They are 26-0 at home this season and have won 44 in a row at Oracle dating back to last season.
The Warriors swept the three-game season series over OKC and are 50 games over .500 for the first time this season.
“You can’t even dream this stuff up,” Kerr said. “But it’s been that kind of season for us.”