OAKLAND -- Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was throwing most everything he had at the 76ers, man after man after man, every available body except Kevon Looney.
And no one worked the necessary miracles except Draymond Green, who spent Tuesday night throwing every bit of himself at the Sixers. He kept coming and coming, minute after relentless minute, until Philly finally folded.
The Warriors prevailed 106-104 because Green made them. The Saginaw, Mich. native found his offense scoring 20 points -- his highest total in three months -- but, moreover, was downright “Sagnasty” in terrorizing the 76ers with his defense.
“He led the charge,” Kerr said. “We really didn’t get after it defensively for most of the game, and then the fourth quarter was fantastic.”
The Warriors, with Green setting the tone, limited Philadelphia to 14 points on 30-percent (6-of-20) shooting in the fourth.
The Warriors had been atrocious on defense, and Green was trying to plug the leaks. After Philly shot 56 percent in the first quarter, Green, during a timeout early in the second, grabbed his teammates by their collective collar, stared into their long faces and dropped a few words on them.
“The realization is, obviously, it’s going to be a dogfight,” Stephen Curry said. “We still get everybody’s best shot. When we’re not making shots, we still need to find a way to do other things to get wins. It’s not always pretty. That was the message.”
The Warriors briefly responded, holding the Sixers to 37.5 percent in the second quarter, but they bounced back to shoot 52.6 percent in third, taking a 12-point lead into the fourth.
That got the full attention of the Warriors. It was in those desperate moments, with the Oracle crowd voicing muted disappointment in the proceedings, that every member of the team responded to Green’s call.
“The fourth quarter, the way Draymond impacted the game . . . he just kind of willed himself to another level,” Curry said. “He was a huge catalyst for us.”
Said Kerr: “Draymond is always the emotional leader, but everybody defensively stepped it up in that fourth.”
Asked about his sermon, Green said he felt it necessary to remind guys that they’ve been “in a little bit of a rut,” and that the only way to get out was to fight through it.
That meant, for the most part, defending as he did. In addition to 20 points and eight assists, Green also posted eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals. The last player to post his stat line was Hakeem Olajuwon on March 3, 1990, against the Warriors.
“You don’t go into a rut and then come out of it and hit 20 threes,” Green said. “It just don’t work like that. You have to grind yourself out, grind your way out of it. Tonight, we did that.
“The end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter, we realized, hey, it’s not going our way. But just put our heads down and go defend and the offense will come. Once we started to defend, everything else started to go our way.”
It was enough to send the 76ers, who led by as much as 16, out of Oakland with a defeat that had Green’s signature.
“He’s just elite defensively,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “And he’s highly competitive.”