In 2.3 seconds, Andre Iguodala flipped the script on the Oklahoma City Thunder by hitting the biggest shot of his Golden State Warriors tenure.
Iguodala made a baseline fadeaway as time expired to lift the Warriors to a thrilling 116-115 victory over the Thunder on Thursday night, capping a back-and-forth game between two teams expected to contend for the Western Conference title.
"Those are the moments when your mind is just racing," said Iguodala, who finished with 14 points and nine assists. "When Klay (Thompson) threw the pass, I was thinking I could get to the basket. As soon as the ball hit my hands, my feet were set just to catch, turnaround and shoot — something I worked on a lot throughout my career. The situation was there and everything just worked out."
Russell Westbrook's 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining put the Thunder ahead after they trailed by 14 points early in the fourth quarter. Warriors coach Mark Jackson called a timeout, drawing up a play that gave Iguodala an option to shoot or pass, saying he thought the Thunder would just switch if Stephen Curry received the ball.
Iguodala took the inbounds pass from Thompson and rose up against Thabo Sefolosha for the winning 16-footer, sending the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 into a frenzy. Iguodala sprinted toward half court and was mobbed by teammates.
"That last timeout, it was pretty dark in that huddle," Jackson said. "You look up and you say, 'How did they climb all the way back? How?' You start beating yourself up. That's when you have a moment. They looked at each other and realized there is still time left and we can execute because we work on it every day."
Golden State trailed for just 23 seconds combined in its first three home games. The Warriors held a lead in each game — against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons — of at least 27 points and won by double digits.
Not on this night.
The game started with an outpouring of offence and energy and never relented over 48 minutes.
There were 16 lead changes, nine ties and countless can't-believe-he-just-made-that shots. Neither team led by more than seven until the Warriors began to pull away late in the third quarter.
Or so it seemed.
Westbrook's 3 set off the Thunder's celebration just seconds before Iguodala's shot. Westbrook kissed his hand and was bumped by teammate Kevin Durant as both flashed grins near the scorer's table.
"It was fun until the last shot," Durant said.
"I don't even know what happened," Westbrook added. "I was guarding Curry down in the corner, so I'm not exactly sure."
Thompson scored 27 points and Curry had 22 points and nine assists for a Warriors team that made 14 of 23 shots from 3-point range.
But it was Iguodala's difficult midrange jumper that stole the spotlight — the very reason Golden State signed the free agent away from Denver this off-season to a four-year, $48 million contract.
"He's exactly who we thought he was," Jackson said. "We're so fortunate to have him on this basketball team."
Oklahoma City outrebounded Golden State 48 to 31, but couldn't put together enough stops to match a strong offensive effort from its three big stars.
Westbrook finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Serge Ibaka had 27 points and 13 rebounds and Durant had 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as the Thunder lost for the second straight night to a top Western Conference team. Oklahoma City fell at the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
The Thunder made six of their first seven from long range, shooting more than 70 per cent overall midway through the second quarter under the direction of Durant and Westbrook. But 19 turnovers cost Oklahoma City more than anything, handing the Warriors more opportunities to do what they do best: shoot.
Reserve Draymond Green gave Golden State a 100-86 lead early in the fourth quarter, twisting his way for a layup after taking a sharp pass from Thompson. The Warriors still had to hold off a furious final push from the Thunder to earn by far their biggest win this young season.
"That was a great NBA game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Playoff intensity in November. Great crowd, great atmosphere. They're a great team. Couldn't ask for a better game. Unfortunately, somebody had to lose."
NOTES: Durant was called for a technical foul in the final seconds of the first half after shoving Warriors C Andrew Bogut. ... Thunder C Kendrick Perkins wasn't with the team for the second straight game after his grandfather died Monday. He was raised by his grandparents in Beaumont, Texas. ... The Thunder fell to 33-8 following a loss since the start of the 2011-12 season, the best record in the NBA during that span. Oklahoma City was 17-4 after a loss last season.
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