Curry silences critics as Warriors lead 2-1

Golden State's Stephen Curry driving to the basket against the Houston Rockets' Eric Gordon (right) and Gerald Green. The Warriors won 126-85.
Golden State's Stephen Curry driving to the basket against the Houston Rockets' Eric Gordon (right) and Gerald Green. The Warriors won 126-85.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

OAKLAND (California) • Stephen Curry was on his way to another two days of online debate about what was wrong with his game.

The Golden State Warriors guard had looked tentative and lost in Sunday's Game 3 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Western Conference Finals, just like in the previous two games.

His shots were not falling, he was being exposed badly on defence, and his team were winning in spite of him rather than because of him.

Then came a transcendent third quarter in which Curry looked his normal self. He made all seven of his shots, two of which were three-pointers, and finished the quarter with a team-high 18 points, matching his highest point total in the first two games in a single period.

The quarter, in which the Warriors' lead over the top-seeded Houston Rockets swelled from 11 to 21 points, was part of a 35-point effort by Curry in Golden State's eventual 126-85 victory that made an emphatic statement on the heels of their Game 2 humbling.

The NBA champions, who effectively stole home-court advantage in the series after their Game 1 win in Houston, now have a 2-1 lead in the series, with two of the next three games coming at home.

"It's what I expected to do," Curry said in an on-court interview with TNT. "My approach to every game is you don't get too high on the highs and you don't get too low on the lows.

"I was obviously happy to hit some shots tonight - eventually."

Curry's big night, which included hitting 11 of his last 13 shots, was complemented with 25 points by Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, who finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and six assists.

The Rockets were paced by 20 points from James Harden.

The Warriors, however, will not take time to celebrate their NBA record-setting 16th straight home play-off win, which surpassed the mark previously held by the Chicago Bulls from April 27, 1990 to May 21, 1991.

"It's huge, it's kind of a swing game of the series. But we're not naive enough to think what happened tonight is an indication of what will happen in a couple of days," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said ahead of Game 4 today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).

"I'm really proud of them, but make no mistake about it, Game 4 will be incredibly difficult. We know what's coming so we've got to be ready."

Kerr was also not surprised to see Curry bounce back for his first 30-point game this post-season.

"He's got unbelievable stamina, physical and mental toughness. He's got unbelievable character, talent, it always rises when it needs to," he said.

NYTIMES, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2018, with the headline 'Curry silences critics as Warriors lead 2-1'. Print Edition | Subscribe