Creeping doubts regarding the Warriors’ future this postseason could be cast aside after a 90-second stretch likely to linger in NBA history.
Stephen Curry scored 15 points during a 1:22 stretch of the third quarter of the Warriors’ 118-91 victory over Oklahoma City Wednesday, exhibiting a level of playoff dominance that rivaled showings from past Warriors Eric “Sleepy” Floyd and Wilt Chamberlain.
Curry scored 17 total points in the third quarter, though he could have scored more considering his 90 seconds of history.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said:
“I just expected nothing less of Steph. He’s the MVP for a reason, and he knows he didn’t have his best night in Game 1, and he came out and played exceptionally well.”
Floyd, who owns the record for points in one postseason quarter with 28, needed to play an entire quarter to set his mark, while taking most of the shots for Golden State when he made his name in 1987 versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
Curry hit five threes and drove to the rim while avoiding four Thunder defenders to notch his 17 points during Wednesday’s historic stretch.
Wilt Chamberlain also had runs cemented as dominant, and Curry joined the pair of Warriors to exude everything that is clutch in basketball.
The Warriors desperately needed the MVP to step up, too, as every lead that Golden State created was later raked over coals by Thunder forward Kevin Durant.
Durant paced Oklahoma City with 29 points, and gave the Dubs serous problems for the entirety of the first half. The Thunder’s star scored 23 points in the first half, nearly half of Oklahoma’s total of 49 through 24 minutes, and four boards and a steal during that span.
“It was all about our ball movement. The way they’ve been defending, it’s hard to kind of get a rhythm if you you don’t move the ball, and play with aggression, decisiveness. And I think we were able to do that. We set great screens, moved the ball from said to side.”
Curry’s dynamic 10-minute session wasn’t the only breathtaking moment, though the other ran in the opposite direction. Kerr and much of the Oracle crowd held their collective breath after Curry dove into the crowd for a loose ball, sustaining an elbow contusion trying his hand at being Superman.
“I didn’t see him land, I just saw him go over the top. I was just hoping he didn’t bang into a chair, somebody’s knee or something. We were just waiting to see him get up. He got up, and looked fine, and we all just kind of heaved a sigh of relief.”
The MVP dove after a loose ball during the latter parts of the second quarter, over an entire first row of fans, and ended up stuck in between the small area between floor seats and the next level of luxury. Curry said:
“Only reason I dove was because I saw, I don’t know if it was Shaun or Andre, at the top of the key, so I figure if I can get my hands on it and sling it to them, it’d be a wide open layup. Obviously one step too many, and went over. Thankfully I came out of it alright. Elbow is fine. It looks like it has a tennis ball on top of it, but doesn’t affect range of motion or anything like that.”
Curry said that he hasn’t seen a video, and doesn’t know how much the fans helped to alleviate some force from his fall.
The answer: Not at all.
Another moment added to the injury, when Durant tangled with Curry, culminating in the Warriors’ guard on the deck, asking for a foul. Curry said that spill aggravated his elbow a bit.
He clearly managed to play through whatever pain he was feeling, though, and expects to receive treatment over a five-day layoff before Game 3.
Bandage on Curry's elbow pic.twitter.com/yJq4nNbYGM
— Raiders on SFBay.ca (@RaidersSFBay) May 19, 2016
Speights added nine second-half points, along with a pair of boards over six minutes, pushing the momentum while each team’s starting unit caught their breath.
Golden State lost Game 1 by six points — by only two points when excluding four free throws taken by Russell Westbrook as the Warriors were committing strategic desperation fouls — and were out-rebounded by eight, out-shot from deep by 10 percentage points, and trailed extensively in free throw attempts and bench scoring.
The script was flipped in Game 2, and the point differential was 27 points, much larger than the six points — or two points, to be extra-clerical — that Oklahoma won by on Monday.
That’s the brand of basketball Golden State expects, even if they don’t think they can out-rebound the Thunder over a series, and even if they have to focus the majority of their defensive attention on Durant and Westbrook.
The win knots up the series at one apiece as the Warriors travel to the Sooner state for two games against the Thunder beginning Sunday at 5 p.m..