Some would say it's really hard to lose a game when you're up 27 points in the third quarter. Even if you're facing one of the top teams in the NBA or one of the top shooting teams in the NBA, having a 27-point lead with less than 24 minutes to go in the game should make it a virtual lock. But Tuesday night at Oracle Arena, the Toronto Raptors found themselves up 27 points with 9:20 left in the third quarter and they wouldn't walk out of the building with a victory.
Over the final 21:20 of the game, the Golden State Warriors received 38 points from the combination of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, which bested the entire Toronto Raptors' team by 10 points. The Warriors overall went on a 64-28 run during this stretch to grab one of the most exciting wins in franchise history.
The Warriors' defense stepped up in taking the 61.2 percent the Raptors had shot from the field in route to grabbing the 27-point lead and allowing just 35.7 percent from the field the rest of the night. During the 64-28 run, the Warriors shot 56.8 percent from the field, 10-of-20 from the 3-point line, and had as many 3-point makes as the Raptors had total baskets.
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The defensive mistakes the Raptors made during this barrage of 3-point shooting and overall scoring were kind of impressive. Early in the stages of this comeback, it was probably easy for them to not take any run by the Warriors seriously. Like when Amir Johnson didn't really pay attention to Curry holding the ball as Andrew Bogut slipped a screen for the alley-oop:
But even when the Warriors were still down 21 points, the Raptors should have known they need to find the Warriors' shooters at all times. This secondary transition possession for the Warriors ended up giving Klay Thompson a wide-open 3-point shot. Draymond Green seemed to be the only person in the middle of the floor (including all five Raptors players) who knew Thompson shouldn't have been left open.
At a certain point, you have to stop feeling bad for the Raptors because they're doing this to themselves. Remember the historic 3-point shooting Stephen Curry had last season when he set the single-season 3-point record? Klay Thompson is on pace to beat that right now. He's taking 7.7 3-pointers per game (same as Steph last season) but he's making an absurd 47.3 percent from downtown.
So why would you leave him in the corner to drop down to defend a two-point shot inside?
After a Jermaine O'Neal offensive rebound, the Raptors took their sweet time remembering they should get back to the shooters on the perimeter. As Klay is selflessly giving up a look for a better look by Curry in the left corner, Tyler Hansbrough is just figuring out he should be out there preventing a shot. He made an admirable closeout but it was too late against Curry.
How do you keep going under screens and leaving Klay Thompson open? Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself! Why are you hitting yourself?!
You don't blow a 27-point lead by playing good, adequate or even dumb basketball. It takes really dumb decisions out there to lose by eight points when you were up 27 just 22 minutes prior to the final buzzer. You let Klay, Curry, and the rest of the gang make fire out there like they're Tom Hanks in Castaway.
As Kevin Draper pointed out on Twitter, the Warriors had an offensive rating of 207 points per 100 possessions in the fourth quarter.
In the 4th quarter, the Warriors' offensive rating was 207. Two Hundred and Seven. Over two points per possession...— Kevin Draper (@kevinmdraper) December 4, 2013
That's kind of insane.
The Warriors have had defensive issues since Andre Iguodala went down with his hamstring injury and they'll have to play better basketball to avoid getting into big holes like the first half of this game. But you can't count them out when they have arguably the two best outside shooters in the world. They certainly have the best shooting backcourt we've seen in a long time, maybe even of all-time.
No lead is safe with the Warriors. The Raptors learned that the fun way. Well, it was fun for us.