At the end of the first quarter, the Golden State Warriors were in a very unfamiliar position. They were down 17 points, at home, to the Toronto Raptors, who came in boasting an impressive record of 6-10. Though the Warriors picked things up in the second quarter, their rough 1st quarter still left them trailing by 17 at halftime.
With his team down big at the half, you would’ve expected coach Mark Jackson to lay into his squad pretty hard. Jackson, however, didn’t get the opportunity. Veteran big man Jermaine O’Neal did all the talking for him. Thoroughly embarrassed by the lackluster display in the first half, O’Neal challenged his teammates to step up and show what they were made of.
If you were still watching at the start of the second half, it appeared that O’Neal’s words had fallen on deaf ears as the Raptor lead ballooned to 27 behind the hot shooting of DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay. Despite cutting it to 18 after the 3rd, the chances of a Warrior win looked dim, and you would have been well within your rights to turn off your TVs or change the channel.
For those of us that stuck it out, we were treated to one of the most remarkable comebacks ever witnessed. Behind a barrage of three-point bombs from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors outscored the Raptors 42-15 in the fourth, with the “Splash Brothers” contributing 26 of those points. It was the biggest comeback in franchise history, and also tied for the 7th largest in NBA history.
Looking at the final score doesn’t do the game justice. This was a game the Warriors were supposed to win, but it is the way it was won that makes it crucial to their growth as a team. It showed the ability they have to battle back, even when shorthanded. After all, they were still missing All-Star Andre Iguodala and backup point guard Toney Douglas. The Warriors bench has been inconsistent all year, but they still managed to get timely contributions from Draymond Green and O’Neal, who played so effectively that Jackson left him in during crunch time over Andrew Bogut.
While the Warriors still have a lot to improve on before being counted among the Western Conference elite, they have proven, above all else, that they won’t go down without swinging.