The Easter Sunday matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers featured the largest difference in win percentage in NBA history.
The game turned out to be closer than expected. Klay Thompson scored 40 points, Stephen Curry added 20 and the Warriors rolled to their 53rd straight regular-season home victory with a comfortable 117-105 win over the woeful 76ers. Draymond Green finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his 12th triple-double of the season. Golden State (66-7) entered the game as a 22-point favorite.
Former Warriors Carl Landry and Ish Smith scored 22 and 20 points, respectively, to lead Philadelphia (9-65). The duo combined to shoot 18-of-29 from the field. Robert Covington added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Player of the game: Thompson scored 40 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. He shot 15-of-27 from the field, 7-of-14 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line. Thompson scored 13 points in the fourth quarter — hitting a pair of 3-pointers 27 seconds apart – to help keep the Sixers at bay.
Thompson has put up eye-popping numbers in the past week. In the last three games, the Washington State product is averaging 37.3 points on 54.8 percent shooting. In the last four contests, Thompson has made an incredible 62.2 percent (28-of-45) of his 3-pointers.
“He’s not hesitating, not that he ever did before,” Kerr said. “He’s just finding shots everywhere. He’s a phenomenal shooter. He’s a legit 6’6″ with long arms and has a high release. He’s so strong that he can stop on a dime, pull up and shoot over the top on just about anybody. He always thinks he’s hot, whether he is or not. It’s a good mentality to have as a shooter.”
According to Elias Sport Bureau, Thompson and Curry are the first pair of teammates in Warriors’ history — and NBA’s first since Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe in 1983 — to both record consecutive 40-point games in the same season.
Turning point of the game: The last time these two teams played on Jan. 30, the Warriors blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter and needed a game-winning 3-pointer from Harrison Barnes with 0.2 seconds left to pull out a 108-105 victory. The opening 15 minutes was an extension of how that game ended, until it wasn’t.
Isaiah Canaan converted a rare four-point play, unless your name is Jamal Crawford, to tie the game at 40 with 9:37 left in the second quarter. It was all Golden State after that. The Warriors outscored the Sixers 31-12 run over the next 7:45 to take the biggest lead of the game at 71-52.
Marreese Speights sparked the decisive charge with eight points in a span of 89 seconds. He converted a 3-point play, threw down a two-handed dunk and splashed a 3-pointer from the left wing. Speights scored 11 points in the quarter and finished the first half with 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting.
“I thought Mo was terrific,” Kerr said. “He’s been fantastic the last month or so. I thought the key stretch of this game was in the second quarter when that unit we had out there (Ian Clark/Brandon Rush/Speights/Thompson/Leandro Barbosa) really made a good push and opened up the game. Gave us a lead that we were comfortable with the rest of the night.”
Turnovers: After a season-low seven turnovers against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Warriors committed six in the first quarter. The Sixers converted those miscues into just five points, but shot 56.5 percent from the field to trail by just one after the opening frame.
Rest: Kerr announced prior to the game he was resting Shaun Livingston. Anderson Varejao ended up not playing as well.
“We felt like it was a good day to give Shaun a rest because that will have given him four days in between games by the time Tuesday rolls around,” Kerr said in his pregame availability.
Kerr also gave an update on Festus Ezeli and Andre Iguodala.
“They are both doing well and progressing nicely,” Kerr said. “Festus has played in a couple of two-on-two type situations and he’s coming along nicely. Andre continues to progress, but still isn’t like a day-to-day thing, he’s still a bit a ways from playing.”
Kerr marvels at how his team continues to win at a historic pace, despite being shorthanded. The Warriors are just seven wins away from having the winningest regular season in NBA history. There are nine games remaining on the schedule.
“I told them I know how much of a grind this is at this point, especially down several guys,” Kerr said. “So I’m proud of them. They continue to put forth the effort and grind out these wins. They are fantastic. Our guys are great. They just keep doing it. Like I said, it’s not as easy as they make it look.”
Quote of the night: Kerr was asked postgame about how Speights has almost risen to cult hero status in Dub Nation and how the fans groaned when he was subbed out of the game in the first half.
“Mo has a shelf life,” Kerr quipped. “So I would tell the fans, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get him back in.’ But we have to pay attention to that expiration date and get him out, get him a breather.”