The Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 last night in a rare game for the Warriors that was still up for grabs heading into the fourth quarter.

Both teams passed 100 points in all three head-to-head contests this season, so you could never assume at any point of the game either of them was done scoring, but what made this game really great wasn’t the ending. It was the beginning .

As a casual basketball fan, that first quarter was the most exciting professional basketball I’ve seen in several years.

It didn’t have the artificial automatic excitement of a really meaningful game. It didn’t have the anticipation of some record or other waiting to be broken(although the Warriors do break some sort of record every night). It didn’t have some gimmicky tag like a New Year’s Day game or an outdoor game. It was just a random, late night(on the East Coast) regular season game like any other on the schedule.

What it did have going for it was pace. Neither team had a chance to settle in at all. It was like Rocky Vs. Clubber, where they knew they had to squeeze everything into 15 minutes. That match from Rocky III was fasten-your-seat-belts, like watching PVR’d boxing on fast forward. There were more punches thrown in any three rounds in history.

The Warriors and the Thunder played the exact same way, only amazingly it was real life. I don’t remember a commercial break. I don’t remember being able to catch my breath. And if there were more than two fouls all quarter I don’t remember that either.

That’s not to say it wasn’t physical too. The battles for position at the top of the key were intense. If I had to show one video to young basketball players on what they should strive for, I’d forget the showtime dunks and one-man 50 point performances. I’d show the first 12 minutes from last night. Every player from both teams ran a clinic.