Stephen Curry had 17 points. In overtime.
Stephen Curry is back. Not just back on the court for the first time this series following a sprained knee, but the past-and-future MVP, drops-your-jaw Curry was back by the fourth quarter of this one. And with that, so were the Warriors.
After three quarters trying to get his groove back — 6-of-18 shooting, 0-of-9 from three, not getting to the free throw line — the Curry fans love and opponents feared showed up in the fourth. He shot 10-of-14 and hit 5-of-7 from three in the fourth quarter and overtime, but those numbers don’t tell the story — vintage showing-off-the-handles-then-burying-the-deep-three-in-your-face Curry was back with 27 points in the final 17 minutes.
“I expected what I saw early, I expected a lot of rust,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “I don’t think anyone could have predicted the explosion.”
The Trail Blazers couldn’t, nor could they stop it. Curry lifted the Warriors to a 132-125 overtime win that puts Golden State up 3-1 in the series heading home Wednesday night. With Curry back, this is going to be the end of Portland’s season.
As they have all season, these Blazers battled.
For a second straight game, Damian Lillard put up numbers — 36 points — and he got help with 24 from C.J. McCollum and 18 from Al-Farouq Aminu. Mason Plumlee made plays and the Trail Blazers played with emotion.
However, the Blazers were not efficient when it mattered. For example, it took 30 shots from Lillard to get his 36. Behind their stars the Blazers raced out to a 16 point lead and led through the half. It wasn’t until a 19-4 Warriors run in the third that the game got tight — and when it did Portland kept fighting, and Lillard kept making shots.
However, also as the game wore on the Blazers leaned more and more on Lillard and McCollum isolations to score, which was not efficient. The Warriors started to crank up their defense in the fourth and OT; Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were able to combine on late stops that were crucial.
“Defensively down the stretch, that last five minutes, Draymond was unbelievable, clogging up that paint, blocking shots, altering shots,” Curry said after the game. “Andre (Iguodala) was great on C.J., Klay did an unbeleivable job on Dame to make it tough on him and not let him get any open looks.”
Also, Thompson had 24 points and Green chipped in 21 and nine rebounds.
What ended up being the key play of the game was one that looked bad for the Warriors at the time. The Warriors had gotten on a run and cut the lead to three in the second quarter, but as Trail Blazers made a push back it happened: Shaun Livingston got a layup and as he shot was hit in the head, a foul that wasn’t called. Livingston got hot and barked at referee Scott Foster all the way down the court, earning himself a technical. But Livingston didn’t stop, used some language your mom would not approve of, and Foster has a quick trigger — within seconds Livingston got a second technical and was ejected.
With a shortage of guards, Kerr had no choice but to play Curry more.
That ended up working out pretty well.