OAKLAND (California) • On one play, Stephen Curry dribbled 14 times, toying with defenders before bursting forward for a lay-up. On another, he dived over the first row of fans after a loose ball.
And, during one breathtaking stretch of the third quarter, he did what he does best - score points in rapid succession - to turn a tight game into a blowout victory .
The Golden State Warriors guard did a little of everything to lead his team to a crucial 118-91 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2 of the National Basketball Association Western Conference Finals on Wednesday.
He scored 15 of his 28 points during a dizzying span of 1min 58sec in the third quarter.
The Warriors were clinging on to a 64-57 lead, before Curry hit a long three-pointer with 7:09 left in the third period. By the time he capped his scoring binge with another three-pointer with 5:11 left, the Warriors led 79-59 and it was clear to the nearly 20,000 fans that the best-of-seven series would soon be tied at 1-1.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan agreed that Curry's flurry changed the game, saying: "I thought we were in good shape and then they hit us with that flurry. We let Curry get loose a few times and we need to do a better job in that area."
Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday in Oklahoma City.
"It's all about our ball movement," Curry said. "The way that they've been defending, it's hard to get a rhythm if you don't move the ball."
His swollen right elbow is the Warriors' next worry. Curry played it down, however, saying it was an issue of pain, not range of motion.
"I just expect nothing less from Steph," his coach Steve Kerr said. "He's the MVP (Most Valuable Player) for a reason. He knows he didn't have his best night in Game 1 and came out and played exceptionally well."
The Thunder won the opener on Monday by erasing a 13-point half-time deficit, but they had no retort this time.
Kevin Durant had a game-high 29 points, but just six in the second half. Russell Westbrook was held to 16 points.
"Guys in the locker room aren't happy that we're 1-1," Durant said. "We're upset that we didn't play well tonight."
In contrast to Monday's all-around Thunder performance, Westbrook and Durant were the only two Oklahoma City players to score in double figures.
The Warriors, on the other hand, got strong contributions from their back-up big men, Festus Ezeli (12 points) and Marreese Speights (13 points).
The result preserved their remarkable season-long record of never having suffered back-to-back defeats.
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE