The Warriors were outrebounded, had fewer assists, missed 10 free throws and spent much of the game trailing against the powerful Philadelphia 76ers.
But they were the better team in the second half Saturday, and came away with a 120-117 victory over the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Stephen Curry scored nine of his 28 points over the final 3:41 and Kevin Durant drained a free throw with 4.5 seconds remaining to punctuate his 34-point night and allow the Warriors (44-19) to hold off the 76ers.
Here are three quick takeaways from the final contest of the four-game Eastern Conference road trip:
For the second consecutive game, the Warriors turned up the defense in the third quarter and put themselves in position to win. They couldn’t hang on Thursday in Orlando against the Magic, but finished the job and fended off the Sixers on Saturday.
The Warriors were down 12 at the half, and 14 one minute into the third quarter. They responded with a 15-0 run to take a 72-71 lead with 7:59 remaining. Just like that, in a span of three minutes, the game was there for the taking.
The 76ers went 0-of-5 from the field during that stretch, and were forced into two turnovers.
In winning the quarter 38-23, the Warriors held Philadelphia to 38.1-percent shooting and forced six turnovers.
The Warriors needed a boost at both ends in the third, getting 12 points from Durant on one end while Green and Durant also played splendid defense.
Family support helps
Curry picked up two fouls in the first quarter, had three at the half and got his fourth with 8:15 left in the third quarter. He was playing well enough, but couldn’t stay on the count to make a massive imprint on the game.
Enter Damion Lee, the two-way Warrior who happens to be Curry’s brother-in-law.
Lee scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc over the first three quarters. That, along with Curry’s 17 points through three quarters, gave the Curry family 29 points through 36 minutes.
Given Lee’s crucial contribution while Curry was on the bench, the two-time MVP owes his brother-in-law.
Early defense still MIA
The Warriors, once again, didn’t play championship-level defense early, perhaps because this is not the postseason.
But it happens far too often for a team with title aspirations, and this game was the latest example.
Philadelphia shot 52.4 percent from the field in the first quarter, and 54.5 percent in the second. That marked six quarters of the last 10 where opponents topped 50 percent against the Warriors.
Having dug quite the hole, trailing by as much as 14, the Warriors had to scramble, scratch and kick to climb out and come back for the victory.
Still, it’s a habit they’ll need to break. Sooner, rather than later.