The 76ers have an anybody-but rule.
That is: They will let anybody but the opposing team's best player beat them.
"We'll take our licks whatever else happens," coach Brett Brown said. "To have Steph Curry walk down this game is not how we are going to leave this gym."
So after he ran time off the clock, the Sixers double-teamed the reigning league MVP with Nerlens Noel and Ish Smith. Curry passed out of the double-team to Draymond Green in the lane. He, in turn, quickly found a wide-open Harrison Barnes in the corner. The small forward buried a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to lift the Golden State Warriors to a 108-105 victory Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
"You don't want Steph to beat you," Smith said. "Noel was out there about to take a foul. Before he took a foul, I came and doubled. It's anybody but the best player in the world, right now. So get the ball out of his hands.
"And they got a team for a reason. It's not just Steph. Draymond kicked it to Harrison. Big three."
The Sixers (7-41) came in as 17-point underdogs. They trailed by as many as 24 points with 7 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third period to the team favored to win a second straight NBA title. Yet a sellout crowd of 20,798 witnessed them outscore Golden State, 33-17, in the fourth quarter.
The Sixers had 18 steals for the game.
"We probably should have lost, because that's what happens when you mess around with the game and with the ball," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We had 23 turnovers, and after a beautiful first half of ball movement we totally got away from our game and lost our focus.
"But Harrison bailed us out."
At 43-4, Golden State tied the 1966-67 Sixers for the best record in NBA history after the season's first 47 games.
The Warriors shared the ball in this victory, posting 37 assists on 47 made baskets. This marked their sixth consecutive game with 30-plus assists.
Curry finished with 23 points – his second-lowest scoring output since producing 17 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 5. He had 14 points on Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks.
Curry might have been the headliner. But it was backcourt mate Klay Thompson who dominated the game.
The 6-foot-7 shooting guard led all scorers with 32 points. Green added 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists. Barnes had 11 points in what was the Warriors' sixth straight victory.
Reserve guard Isaiah Canaan paced the home squad with 18 points. Smith finished with 16 points and nine assists.
Center Jahlil Okafor came off the bench after missing the previous two games with flu symptoms. He added 13 points.
Robert Covington (12), Hollis Thompson (11), Nik Stauskas (10), and Jerami Grant (10) were the Sixers' other double-digit scorers.
The Sixers took an 8-6 lead on Covington's three-pointer with 8:45 left in the first quarter. The Warriors hadn't trailed in 189 minutes before that basket. The Sixers went on to open up a seven-point cushion (17-10). Golden State responded with a 15-0 run to take a 25-17 lead with 3:36 left in the quarter.
Even after the Warriors went up by 24 points, the Sixers kept battling until they knotted the score with 22.3 seconds left. That's when Smith scored on a dunk after Canaan fed him the ball after stealing a pass.
Golden State called timeout, then Curry let the clock run down before executing a play that led to Barnes' game-winner.
"I don't have any buyer's remorse," Brown said of double-teaming Curry. "I wish they didn't have that direct pass out of it as easy and they found Barnes in the corner."