The Boston Celtics went into Oracle Arena Friday night and did something that hasn’t been done in 430 days.
Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points, Jared Sullinger had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Celtics snapped the Golden State Warriors’ NBA-record 54-game regular-season home winning streak with a thrilling 109-106 victory. Evan Turner added 21 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. The bench chipped in with 24 points.
“We didn’t have a guy played poorly,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “That’s what it takes to beat a team like this.”
The Warriors had not lost at home since losing in overtime to the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 27, 2015. They had two chances late to send the game into overtime and perhaps continue the streak, but Stephen Curry’s 3-pointer from the left wing rimmed out. Harrison Barnes got the offensive rebound in the lane, got back to the arc, but his last-ditch effort was well short.
“I congratulated them,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “They just won 54 home games in a row. What our guys have accomplished is incredible. I don’t know if people understand the intensity and the work that it takes to put together a streak like that. To compete night in and night out when you are worn out. It takes a lot out of you, especially when every game is the other team’s biggest game. People are coming after us. So I told the guys how proud I am of them for putting together an amazing streak.
“It sucks to lose because we haven’t had this feeling at home in a while,” Curry said. ‘We had a good fight tonight. We overcame sloppy play in the first half, especially with the turnovers, and gave ourselves a chance to win. The Celtics played well down the stretch, made shots in the fourth quarter. We couldn’t turn the tide.”
Curry led Golden State (68-8) with 29 points. Draymond Green had a monster floor game with 16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, six steals and two blocks. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively. The road is more difficult, but the Warriors still have a chance to have the winningest regular season in NBA history. They need to win five of their last six games to finish with 73 wins.
Key of the game: In the third quarter, Curry erupted for 21 points on 6-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Thomas countered with 18 on 7-of-9 shooting. Curry hit a 34-foot 3-pointer that tied the game at 75. Kelly Olynyk responded with a 3-pointer of his own. Curry hit his six 3-pointer of the quarter less than a minute later to give the Warriors a one-point lead. But the Celtics regained the lead for good when Olynyk got fouled and sank two free throws. Golden State scored 36 points on 60 percent shooting. Boston scored 37 on 65 percent shooting.
Boston had an answer for everything the NBA champions threw at them. The Celtics did not wilt under pressure, kept their composure and that’s how they won the game. It was an outstanding performance from a team — even missing the versatile Jae Crowder (rest) — that was coming off a 116-109 loss at Portland the previous night.
“When Curry got going in the third quarter,” Stevens said. “I thought the biggest moments of the game were us scoring consecutively when he scored because when he gets going, that’s usually when they run away with a 10-0 run or 12-0 run.”
Turnovers: The Warriors hit 20-of-43 (.465) shots from 3-point range. But they could not overcome 22 turnovers that resulted in 27 Boston points. It was the most miscues since the Warriors had 24 on March 7 against the Orlando Magic. The Celtics committed 14 turnovers, resulting in 15 points. Both teams committed five turnovers in the fourth quarter, but only Boston was able to take advantage with four crucial points.
“Our execution was really bad,” Kerr said. “A lot of it had to do with their defense. I thought they were fantastic. That’s a really good team. They play great defense on the perimeter especially. Got us out of sync and we just weren’t able to get a rhythm until it was really late and then we needed to make every play and we didn’t do that.”
Curry turned the ball over a season-high nine times, including five in the opening 6:23. It was his most turnovers in a game since committing 10 on Nov. 9, 2014.
“I thought he was trying to beat Bradley, Smart and Thomas off the dribble instead of us moving the ball,” Kerr said. “We tried to run him off the ball a couple times. But we weren’t crisp with our passing and our cutting and our screening. The only way that you are going to beat that kind of defense is by really having a lot of force and precision and we had none of that.”
“Started the game trying to push the tempo with kick-ahead passes,” Curry said. “They were just off by a couple inches. That kind of set the tone. We were able to rectify it down the stretch, but if you give teams that many extra possessions, then it’s tough to win.”
Injury concern: While Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli are close to returning, the Warriors might have to deal with another injury. Andrew Bogut left the game in the third quarter after injuring his ribs in a collision with Avery Bradley while setting up a screen. Bogut went to the locker room in obvious pain. X-rays were negative, More tests will be done on Saturday.
Up next: The Warriors will have a chance to start a new streak at home on Sunday afternoon against Portland.
“We want to get back to that winning kind of mentality,” Curry said. “So it’ll be an important game for us on Sunday to not let this snowball into something that we don’t want it to be finishing out the season.”
Green echoed the same sentiment and added the Warriors need to get back to playing their brand of basketball.
“We just lost and you never want to lose two in a row,” Green said. “Portland’s a team that we could possibly face and it’s a very good team. So, really getting back to our way of basketball. Even if we win tonight, it’s not our way of basketball. So really just getting back to that as well.”