Golden State star Stephen Curry drained the winning layup with two-tenths of a second remaining Friday as the Warriors opened the NBA’s new in-season tournament with a dramatic 141-139 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In a game featuring 23 lead changes, it was tied at 139-139 when Curry drove to the basket and rose to bank in a shot.
But teammate Draymond Green, whose hand was near the rim, was called for offensive goaltending — only for the call to be overturned to allow the Warriors to celebrate the win.
Curry finished with a game-high 30 points, connecting on five of 10 three-pointers and nine of 15 overall.
Green scored 15 points with five rebounds and Chris Paul handed out 13 assists.
Lu Dort scored 29 points and Chet Holmgren added 24 for Oklahoma City, who were without leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, sidelined by a knee injury.
Even without him, the Thunder weren’t about to go quietly. The Warriors led by two at halftime, but Dort scored 11 points early in the third to put Oklahoma City up by five before the Warriors battled back, knotting the score at 106-106 heading into the fourth.
“They took it to us the whole game,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who admitted he feared the worst when officials reviewed the interference call on Green.
From courtside, Kerr said, Curry’s shot looked good.
“When I saw the replay on the scoreboard, it looked like Draymond touched the rim,” Kerr said. “And I guess it’s just a determination of did it affect the shot.
“I was sort of expecting them to overturn (Curry’s basket), but obviously they allowed it and we escaped.”
It was among the most dramatic moments on the first night of the new Cup-style tournament that commissioner Adam Silver hopes will fire players’ competitive instincts and give added interest to games early in the season.
The 30 clubs were drawn into six groups of five, and each team will play a total of four tournament games this month to decide six group winners and two wildcard qualifiers for the quarter-finals.
All games in the new tournament count in the regular season standings except for the final on December 9 in Las Vegas.
Reigning NBA champions Denver took the opportunity to hand the Dallas Mavericks their first defeat of the season, 125-114.
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic scored 33 points on 14-of-16 shooting, adding 14 rebounds and nine assists as the Nuggets bounced back from their lone defeat so far this season.
Denver scored 20 second-chance points, dominating in the paint to deny a Mavs team led by 34 points from Luka Doncic. Kyrie Irving, back after missing two games, scored 22 for Dallas.
The first win of the new competition went to the Indiana Pacers, who were fueled by 27 points from Myles Turner in a 121-116 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tyrese Haliburton added 18 points and 13 assists for the Pacers, who led by as many as 18 but had to claw back after the Cavs, led by 38 points and nine assists from Donovan Mitchell, grabbed a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Bucks hold off Knicks
It was close in Chicago, where Dorian Finney-Smith scored 21 points and Mikal Bridges added 20 for the Brooklyn Nets in a 109-107 victory over the Bulls.
In Portland, the Trail Blazers edged the Memphis Grizzles 115-113 in overtime.
Bridges’s dunk with 1:13 remaining gave the Nets a 108-104 lead. Zach Lavine answered with a floater but then missed two shots, and with the Nets up 109-107, LaVine was off-target again as time expired.
“We’ve got a lot of grit — and we want to win,” Bridges said of the Nets’ determined fourth-quarter effort.
In Milwaukee, Damian Lillard scored 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, draining the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:03 to play as the Bucks held off the New York Knicks 110-105.
Milwaukee withstood 45 points from Jalen Brunson, whose three-pointer with 1:10 remaining put the Knicks up for the first time since the second quarter, 103-101.
Lillard drained a three-pointer and converted a three-point play to rebuild the Bucks’ lead, and two big blocks from Brook Lopez — who had eight — helped the Bucks maintain the edge.
Giannis Antetokounmpo added 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Bucks, who had six players score in double figures.
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