PHILADELPHIA — The exodus came with 4:55 left. With the Warriors well on their way to a 124-116 win Saturday night over the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center, blue-and-red clad fans chose beating the traffic home over watching anymore.
What made that mass migration toward the exits unique was that it wasn’t much earlier that Philadelphia seemed poised for a blowout. To get its eighth win in nine games, Golden State overcame a 23-point, first-half deficit. It used a dominant third quarter to turn a 22-point halftime hole into a 10-point lead.
That 32-point differential is tied for the largest in the third quarter of any NBA game since the shot clock was instituted in the 1954-55 season. Fresh off a nine-point, four-turnover dud in Thursday’s loss to the Celtics, Stephen Curry poured in 20 of his game-high 35 points in that decisive frame.
After reviewing video of some of its first-half miscues, Golden State tightened up defensively, returned to its pass-happy ways and needed less than nine minutes to inch within two points.
Curry hit two free throws with 1:49 left in the third to put the Warriors up 90-89, their first lead since the opening minutes. Golden State outscored the 76ers 47-15 in the third, shooting 17-for-25 from the field (6-for-9 from three-point range) while forcing Philadelphia into seven turnovers and 15 misses.
The last time Golden State outscored an opponent by 32 points in a quarter was Dec. 15, 1972, at the Buffalo Braves (42-10 in the third quarter). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Saturday marked just the seventh time in the shot-clock era that two teams both scored at least 47 points in a quarter in the same game.
The Warriors have a knack for bringing out the best in their opponents, and few teams have more motivation than the 76ers. A Philadelphia club that went a combined 75-253 the past four years is finally looking like a playoff contender. There is no bigger regular-season milestone for a young team than beating the defending NBA champions, especially a week after it fell at Golden State by 21 points.
Two nights after snapping a seven-game win streak with a 92-88 loss at Boston, the Warriors were completely out of sorts on the 70th birthday of assistant coach Ron Adams, their defensive guru.
On the game’s opening possession, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid caught a pass on the block from Ben Simmons and hammered home a tomahawk dunk. Midway through the first quarter, seven seconds after calling for time, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr was irate with how his team opened its offensive set and called another timeout.
The Warriors’ switch-heavy defense, which has ranked among the league’s top five each of the past four seasons, gave way to a barrage of 76ers dunks and three-pointers. With the home team up 47-28 at the end of the first quarter, Philadelphia fans erupted to their feet in applause.
The 76ers shot 19-for-26 from the field, including 8-for-12 from beyond the arc, in those first 12 minutes. It was the most points Golden State had given up in a quarter in the Kerr era, eclipsing the 44-point second quarter it endured April 15, 2015 against Denver. The Warriors hadn’t allowed more in a quarter since Portland hung 48 on them in the final period Nov. 14, 1992.
By the time intermission arrived, the Warriors were down 74-52 despite shooting 50 percent from the field. No halftime lead is safe, however, against a Golden State team that makes third-quarter blitzes look routine.
Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Con_Chron
Warriors’ advantage in the third quarter, which opened with the 76ers leading 74-52 and closed with Golden State ahead 99-89.
Who: Warriors at Nets
When: 3 p.m.