HOUSTON • The first half of a ferocious National Basketball Association (NBA) game ended with bodies sprawled all over the place.
At one end of the floor, Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors rolled onto his stomach after a punishing fall so he could watch mayhem unfold at the other end: Players scrambling at the buzzer, and then Stephen Curry emerging with a limp.
Game 4 of the Warriors' first-round play-off series against the Houston Rockets on Sunday was a basketball mudslide, and Curry got the worst of it.
In his well-publicised return from a right ankle sprain, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player injured his right knee on the final play of the first half, after appearing to have slipped on a wet spot while defending the Rockets' Trevor Ariza.
The Warriors played the remainder of the game without him, escaping from the muck with a 121-94 victory that gave them a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.
But Curry's latest injury cast a pall on the visiting locker room - and any lingering effects could make the Warriors' pursuit of another championship even more challenging.
The Warriors assessed the injury as a sprain, but coach Steve Kerr said Curry would have a magnetic resonance imaging test.
Game 5 is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday morning, Singapore time) in Oakland, California.
The Warriors were subdued in the wake of Sunday's game. They mulled over the possibility of post-season life without Curry.
"The one thing we all hate in life is uncertainty," said Draymond Green, who had 18 points and eight rebounds.
"Whether that's in a relationship, whether that's in school, whether that's knowing what's being cooked - we hate uncertainty in life as humans.
"So, the uncertainty with him of not knowing what's going on - like, obviously, 'Oh, he sprained his knee.' But that's what we think. That's not what we know until he gets it scanned."
Curry struggled in 19 minutes of playing time, collecting six points and five assists while shooting just two of nine from the field.
He also committed five turnovers, his rhythm jagged after missing the previous two games because of his injured ankle.
Kerr had wanted to exercise great caution with Curry. But, in the closing seconds of the first half, there was a confluence of bad events. Donatas Motiejunas of the Rockets tripped and fell, leaving a slick spot on the court, and Curry had the misfortune of wading into it as he defended Ariza.
Curry's right leg gave way, and he tumbled. He hobbled off the court shedding tears.
The Warriors point guard briefly returned to the bench before the start of the second half.
He tried to assure Kerr that he felt well enough to play. The coach asked his star guard to be honest.
"He just put his head down," Kerr said. "I just feel so bad for him."
"He was standing there crying," said Green. "I just told him we've got him."
Sure enough, the Warriors surged in Curry's absence, breaking open a tie game by outscoring the Rockets, 41-20, in the third quarter.
The Warriors went on to smash an NBA play-off record by making 21 three-pointers in the game. They also had 38 assists on 46 field goals.
Klay Thompson scored 23 points and Iguodala added 22.
"It didn't surprise me one bit that we played so well in the second half," Kerr said. "Our guys play for each other."
Curry did not address the media after the game. All day, though, he was the centre of attention.
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE