Brilliant Curry the catalyst in late win

Back from injury, he masterminds overtime win as his 40 pts give Warriors a vital 3-1 lead

PORTLAND (Oregon) • The big reveal for the Golden State Warriors came in parts.

First, there was the sight of Stephen Curry, absent for the first three games of his team's National Basketball Association Western Conference semi-final series with the Portland Trail Blazers, striding onto the court at Moda Centre on Monday so he could dribble two basketballs at once, a staple of his pre-game routine.

Then, minutes later, Warriors coach Steve Kerr confirmed what everyone had already suspected - that Curry would play.

What happened next defied reasonable expectations, even for a basketball maestro like Curry, who has assembled a myth-making season.

Fifteen days after spraining his right knee in a first-round game against the Houston Rockets, he brushed off the dust to carry the Warriors to a 132-125 overtime victory that gave them a 3-1 series lead.


Stephen Curry (right) of the Golden State Warriors drives past C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-finals. The Warriors turned a 16-point deficit into a 132-125 win. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"Crazy," Kerr said. "Remarkable," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Curry, who set another NBA record in a season full of them by scoring 17 points in overtime, said: "My confidence never wavered."

He finished with 40 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He shot six of seven from the field in overtime, connecting on all three of his three-point attempts.

"You miss three weeks, it's really weird walking back on the court," said the 28-year-old, who had missed two games with a right ankle sprain before spraining his knee. "It took 48 minutes, and things finally clicked."

If he lacked his usual rhythm through three quarters - he missed his first nine three-point attempts - he was adept at making lay-ups, and he scored the Warriors' first 12 points of overtime.

His fourth three-pointer of the game gave Golden State a five-point lead, and a night full of drama gave way to desperation, then sadness.

The Warriors can close out the series today at Oracle Arena.

They survived no shortage of adversity in Game 4.

They trailed by 16 points in the first quarter. Draymond Green played through foul trouble. Shaun Livingston was ejected late in the first half for contesting a call, leaving Kerr with a short bench when he had hoped to monitor Curry's playing time.

Instead, Curry wound up supplying 36 minutes and clogged the box score by shooting 16 of 32 from the field. Klay Thompson added 23 points in the win.

"A lot of it was just the timing issue," Curry said. "You shoot shots in practice, and you try to simulate game speed and what-not, but most of the time, nobody's guarding you. So it's a little different. And then a lot of it is allowing that muscle memory to come back."

Damian Lillard had 36 points and 10 assists for the Trail Blazers, and C.J. McCollum added 24 points.

The Warriors surged at the start of the third quarter. Curry darted through the lane for a lay-up to cut the deficit to three.

He also found Thompson for a three-pointer that put the Warriors ahead by one point.

Early in the fourth quarter, Curry buried a two-foot jumper and the Warriors were up by five. But the teams continued to exchange three-pointers - and the lead - as they fought to the finish of regulation time.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Brilliant Curry the catalyst in late win'. Print Edition | Subscribe