This was supposed to be the game everyone’s favorite story of the 2013 NBA Playoffs – the Golden State Warriors – would begin to descend to reality. And for the first half of Game 4, all the storylines were in place for them to do so on the heels of Tony Parker’s clinic Friday in Oakland. Golden State shot 30% in the first 24 minutes with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson riding scoring droughts that felt nearly impossible given their historic runs. Curry’s ankle needed a painkiller moments before tipoff. Yet, somehow, they were only down eight at the half.
Credit Mark Jackson’s bunch and their 97-87 series tying victory on a buffet of reasons. There was Steph’s now-trademark third quarter eruption. Andrew Bogut’s defense on Tim Duncan in the second half deserves a lot more praise than it’ll probably receive. He forced Timmy into several off balance shots and overall made life hell for the best power forward ever (at what point do we just call him a center?) on an afternoon where Duncan went 7-22 from the field. Those 18 rebounds from Bogut were a godsend, too.
Meanwhile, Jarrett Jack – for as all the stress as he brings Warriors fans – showed up big with several key buckets down the stretch. The only question with regards to Jack is the play calling at the end of regulation. There’s Curry and Thompson on the floor, perfectly capable of running off screens for what could’ve been a game winner. Jack had the hot hand, true, but there’s not a person in America who wants him taking the last shot over Steph or Klay. Then again, not many people in America are on the coaching staff for the Warriors, either. Anywho, Harrison Barnes’ 26 and 10 wasn’t pretty, (9-26 from the field) but his play on both sides of the court helped keep the deficit within striking distance and eventually the lead.*
Moving forward, San Antonio may mess around and regret blowing this lead in what would have been a commanding 3-1 advantage. They shot 35% from the field, missed 11 of their 25 free throw attempts and still had a two-point lead with less than 45 seconds remaining in the game. A veteran ball club led by four future Hall of Famers (Pop, Parker, Duncan and Manu) is what they are, but being outplayed in three of the four games is what they have been this series.
* – Not for nothing, Harrison better say a long prayer to whatever higher power he worships to tonight. Had Ginobli hit that three right before the end of regulation, it would’ve been Randolph Childress/Jeff McGinnis all over again.