WAR­RIORS STUN SPURS

Curry and Du­rant pro­vide the spice in sec­ond-half come­back

New Straits Times - - Sport -

STEPHEN Curry scored 40 points and Kevin Du­rant 34 to power a stun­ning sec­ond-half come­back that lifted Golden State over San An­to­nio 113-111 on Sun­day in an NBA play­off thriller.

The Spurs squan­dered a 25point lead and might have lost star for­ward Kawhi Leonard, who left the game for good with a sprained left an­kle early in the third quar­ter.

Golden State seized a 1-0 edge in the best-of-seven West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal, which con­tin­ues to­day in Oak­land. The win­ners play de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Cleve­land, Bos­ton or Wash­ing­ton in the NBA Fi­nals.

“We just con­trolled what we could con­trol and played smarter,” Curry said. “It’s the play­offs. You’ve got to take a win any way you can get it.”

Curry cred­ited the re­ver­sal of for­tunes in the dy­ing min­utes to “ag­gres­sive­ness, pay­ing at­ten­tion to de­tails and ob­vi­ously we’ve got to make shots.”

The much-an­tic­i­pated matchup be­tween the most pro­duc­tive NBA scor­ing at­tack of Golden State, who led the league with 67 wins, and the top NBA de­fence of the Spurs, next best at 61 wins, met high ex­pec­ta­tions.

Kawhi Leonard scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half and LaMar­cus Aldridge added 17 of his 28 in the open­ing two quar­ters as the Spurs seized a 62-42 half-time lead.

But Leonard left the con­test for good with 7:53 to play in the third quar­ter, limp­ing to the locker room with a left an­kle sprain.

“Just very painful be­cause I tweaked it be­fore,” Leonard said. “It’s hard to tell (about Tues­day). I def­i­nitely couldn’t go (the rest of Sun­day’s game). But we’ll see how I get bet­ter each day.”

Leonard was to un­dergo an MRI yes­ter­day and his sta­tus for game two is ques­tion­able.

The War­riors re­sponded by scor­ing the next 18 points, pulling within 78-73 on Du­rant’s fast break slam dunk.

“We were smart when we got out and pushed the bas­ket­ball. We were dis­ci­plined when we ran,” said War­riors as­sis­tant coach Mike Brown, guid­ing the team in place of idled coach Steve Kerr.

The War­riors were given a half­time pep talk by Kerr, who has given way to Brown since the sec­ond play­off game due to com­pli­ca­tions from back surgery.

Curry scored 19 points in the third quar­ter to ig­nite the fight­back, go­ing 5-of-6 from 3-point range, but the War­riors still trailed 90-81 en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter, Curry be­ing treated on the bench for a right arm is­sue.

Two Du­rant three-point­ers and a dunk trimmed the Spurs’ lead to 96-93. And af­ter two bas­kets by Shaun Liv­ingston and some Spurs misses, Du­rant’ dunk with 4:09 re­main­ing put Golden State ahead 101-100, their first lead since 8-7 in the open­ing min­utes.

Dray­mond Green’s three-point play put the War­riors ahead 109106 and af­ter an Aldridge miss, Curry made a driv­ing lay-up to lift the War­riors ahead 111-106.

Ar­gentina’s Manu Gi­no­bili re­sponded with a dunk for the Spurs and Aus­tralian Patty Mills, start­ing in place of in­jured Tony Parker, made a steal and two key free-throws to pull San An­to­nio within 111-100.

Curry made a shot over Aldridge for the fi­nal War­rior points and a 113-110 edge, Aldridge missed a ty­ing three­p­ointer but Mills was fouled with a half-sec­ond re­main­ing. He made the first free-throw but missed the sec­ond, hop­ing for a game-ty­ing tip in bas­ket.

In­stead, the War­riors swat­ted away the ball and the clock ex­pired.

We had to “be ag­gres­sive and be de­ci­sive,” Curry said. “In the first half we were try­ing to do too much. We weren’t will­ing to take ugly shots.

“I got it go­ing in the third, KD got it done in the fourth, ev­ery­body con­trib­uted and we got it done.”

RE­SULT — Con­fer­ence fi­nals play­off (best-of-seven): Golden State 113 San An­to­nio 111 (Golden State lead 1-0).

Golden State War­riors’ Kevin Du­rant (cen­tre) goes for a slam dunk in a West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal match agaist San An­to­nio Spurs at Or­a­cle Arena in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia on Sun­day.

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