The Golden State Warriors have made a name for themselves over the course of the past decade as one of, if not the best, third quarter team of all time.
The reigning NBA champion Warriors typically unload a barrage of three-pointers on their opponents during these legendary third quarter runs that swings the momentum of the match in their favor and often turns a close game into a blowout.
In their 127-100 win against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, Golden State banked on not just one, but two hot shooting periods to ensure that they tied the series at 1-1 before heading to Los Angeles for the next two outings.
Klay Thompson was the driving force behind the Warriors’ crucial win as he scored 30 points on 11-of-18 field goals, including eight-of-11 three-pointers. Thompson first came alive in the second quarter as he hit four three-pointers that fueled a 41-point period for Golden State. Their torrid shooting flipped what was a seven-point deficit at the beginning of the period into an 11-point edge heading into halftime.
The Warriors’ Thompson-led flurry in the second quarter had all of the elements of their signature third period runs. The momentum that Golden State gathered, much to the dismay of the Lakers, persisted in the second half where they unleashed another 40-point quarter.
This marked the first back-to-back 40-point quarters in franchise history–an astonishing statistic when considering the prolific scoring talent that this team has housed in recent years.
Thompson added another 11 points in the third period as the Warriors reminded Los Angeles in the most emphatic way possible that this series is still far from over. By the end of the third quarter, Golden State’s lead ballooned to 30 points, 110-80, and the match was essentially done as the Lakers’ head coach Darvin Ham wisely pulled his key rotation pieces from the game.
Aside from Thompson, five other Warriors scored at least 10 points in their Game 2 win. Stephen Curry hit an efficient seven-of-12 field goals to finish with 20 points, four rebounds, 12 assists, and one steal on the evening. JaMychal Green, who replaced Kevon Looney in the starting line-up in a key adjustment from Golden State head coach Steve Kerr, chipped in with 15 points on six-of-nine shooting in less than 13 minutes of action.
Kerr decided that it was only feasible to play one non-shooter at a time against Los Angeles’ defense, hence the insertion of the 6’8 J. Green, a career 36.8% three-point shooter, into the starting line-up alongside Draymond Green.
The four-time NBA All-Star D. Green thrived playing in line-ups alongside four shooters as he handed out nine assists along with 11 points, 11 rebounds and one steal. He also played excellent defense on the Lakers’ star center Anthony Davis who went from a dominant 30-point and 23-rebound performance in the previous outing to just 11 points on 11 attempts in Game 2.
The Warriors’ fifth starter, Andrew Wiggins, added 11 points while Moses Moody chipped in with 10 points which mostly came in garbage time.
Golden State, particularly Thompson and D. Green, will have to continue playing at this level to provide Curry with the support that he needs to beat this physically imposing Los Angeles team. Although they are getting up there in years, they continue to prove that they can put up a throwback performance when necessary.
The Warriors will need more of this from their aging core and by the looks of their body language in Game 2, it should be safe to expect more classic showings like this one over the coming weeks of this unpredictable postseason.