Warriors

Warriors end Pelicans' season with dominant third-quarter outburst

Warriors end Pelicans' season with dominant third-quarter outburst

OAKLAND -- For one team, the Western Conference semifinals were a big-time measuring stick. For another, it was nothing more than a pit stop on a path to something much larger.

The New Orleans Pelicans are trying to build something. Their first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers is a starting point and the subsequent experience they picked up in round two is extremely valuable.

Their opponent has been to the top of the mountain, earning rings in two of the last three seasons. The Golden State Warriors aren’t playing for experience points, they are looking to cement their legacy as an NBA dynasty.

New Orleans came into Game 5 trailing 3-1 in the series. They had impressed with their grit and ability to make Golden State work on both ends of the court. They were hanging close to the high-powered Warriors through the intermission, but it’s tough to keep the World Champs under wraps for a full 48 minutes.

The Warriors stumbled to end the first half, giving away a 10-point lead in the final four minutes. Golden State bounced back to take a 59-56 halftime lead, which gave coach Steve Kerr the talking points he needed.

“The main message at halftime was, we’re doing great, we just had a couple of errors and you have to remind guys that, you know, the ball is everything,” Steve Kerr said. “A couple of turnovers can change the entire tone of a game.”

Golden State responded to the message and dropped the hammer on New Orleans coming out of the break. In the blink of an eye, the game and series were over.

“We had some bad possessions and then we missed some shots, and so all of the sudden, it’s 10-0 and you know how that goes,” Alvin Gentry said following the loss.

Fueled by the hot shooting of Stephen Curry, the Warriors outscored the Pelicans 36-19 in the third to take a commanding 20-point lead heading into the final frame.

Still working his way back into game shape after a missing more than five weeks of action, Curry dropped in 13 of his team-high 28 points in the quarter.

“Steph is starting to, I think, get his wind back and his legs back and they are just going to become better,” Gentry added.

Draymond Green shook off a slow start to post nine points in the quarter and Kevin Durant added eight of his 24 in a wild 12 minutes of up and down basketball.

“We generated good shots early and they didn’t go in, and we were very confident that if we continue to get those looks, they will go in at the right time and that’s what happened in the third,” Durant said.

Golden State let off the gas in the fourth quarter, allowing New Orleans to climb within striking distance. But in the end, the advantage coming out of quarter No. 3 was way too much to overcome.

With the win, the Warriors advanced to the Western Conference Finals for a fourth straight season. They’ll face a Houston Rockets team that finished off an injury-riddled Utah Jazz team earlier Wednesday evening.

In third quarter takeover, Curry lets weight of others worrying slide right off his back

In third quarter takeover, Curry lets weight of others worrying slide right off his back

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry couldn’t help himself. He let his emotion tumble off his tongue and, well, clipped one of his angel wings.

Curry dropped an f-bomb Sunday that was heard by a few dozen of the 19,596 fans at Oracle Arena but deciphered by millions of TV-watching lip-readers around the globe.

So hyper-aware of it was Curry that had a ready response when asked about it after the Warriors laid a 126-85 beating on the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

“I already know,” he said.

“I blacked out,” Curry explained, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. “I blacked out.”

To his credit, there was no denial and no awkward attempt at damage control. He was busted and he knew it.

Keep in mind, now, Curry does charity work in his sleep. He raises a finger to give thanks after every basket. He pens bible verses on his sneakers. He makes an annual trip to a church in Oakland to personally donate goods to a community in need.

Yet there he was, late in the third quarter, single-handedly destroying the Rockets, getting carried away. After driving in for a finger roll that gave the Warriors a 24-point lead, Curry yanked out his mouthpiece with his left hand, while gesturing with his right hand and shouting words that will follow him forever.

“This is my f---ing house.”

He was, in the metaphorical sense, telling a precise truth. Curry is the most popular player the Warriors have ever had. He’s a two-time MVP who has been at the vanguard of basketball’s 3-point revolution. His 3-pointers have a way of crushing opponents and fortifying the blood of fans at Oracle.

Curry entered Game 3 being trailed by the nagging sounds of worry. There were questions about his left knee and whether it was fully healed from the Grade 2 MCL sprain sustained in March. There were concerns about his defense and whether expending so much energy on that end was siphoning his vigor on offense, where he struggled with his shot.

There was hope that, maybe, he could return to the cozy bosom of Oracle and prove that all was well.

After a mediocre first half -- sub-mediocre by his standard -- Curry came out in the third quarter and fried every defender who dared to get in front him. He scored 18 points in less than 10 minutes, making every shot he took: 7-of-7 overall, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

It was during this dazzling takeover that the weight of so many others worrying about him, asking him about his game, slid off his back.

And he wanted to let everybody know how good it felt.

“A lot of it was just talking to myself, almost like you've got to be your biggest fan sometimes,” he said. “No matter what questions I was being asked over the first two games or what the expectations were, I had the highest expectations for myself. And you've just got to...find whatever you want to get going.

“Obviously it felt good and you want to use that energy to show your teammates that you're here, you're with them, get the crowd into it.”

Curry still pays a fine to his mother for his turnovers. It’s not substantial, but it adds up and, if Sonya Curry were so inclined to save it, could pay for a nice car.

Well, Mrs. Curry may fine her eldest son for this, too. Curry may volunteer penance. There is a price to be paid for Curry’s frat-boy moment.

There’s also, in some quarters, a sense of relief. Yes, Curry is back and teaching lessons on the court. But he’s also human, capable of the kind of momentary lapse that he’d like to rewind and erase.

Curry’s image has been scrubbed and rescrubbed by a thousand loofahs. It has been, for some, a little too clean. There is dirt on it now, all because he let his emotions off the leash for a moment.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

Red-hot third quarter pushes Warriors halfway to fourth straight NBA Finals

Red-hot third quarter pushes Warriors halfway to fourth straight NBA Finals

That moment. It comes out of nowhere.

While fans were still putting mustard on hot dogs coming out of halftime Sunday evening at Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors were busy dropping the hammer on the Houston Rockets.

Almost every team in the league has faced an offensive run by the Warriors. Once it starts, it’s one of the more difficult things to stop in the NBA.

Golden State took a modest 54-43 lead into halftime and then unleashed the fury on Houston coming out of he break. The Warriors hit the visitors with a 10-0 run to start the third and ran away from the Rockets for a 126-85 win.

Stephen Curry shook off early game shooting struggled to hit the Rockets with 18 points in the third. Curry hit all seven of his shots in the period, including a pair of 3-pointers and four free throws.

“Steph definitely got it going,” Draymond Green said following the win. “I think it was very important for him to get to the basket. Once he started getting to the basket, then all of the sudden the threes opened up and they started to fall."

With the Rockets chasing the two-time league MVP around the court, Kevin Durant added 10 of his 25 points in the quarter 4-of-6 shooting. Once the pair got hot, there was nothing the Rockets could do but try to limit the damage.

“We played soft, actually,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You can’t do that with these guys, these guys are good."

Houston tried to respond, cutting the Warriors lead to 21 heading to the fourth quarter, but the rout was on. Golden State outscored the Rockets 38-18 in the fourth to give them their largest margin of victory in team playoff history.

“The second half, we came out too slow, too slow, too soft,” James Harden said. “Offensively, we didn’t have any thrust and they exploited it."

Curry knocked down a pair of triples in the fourth to finish the evening with 35 points. After a rough couple of shooting games in the playoffs, the All-Star guard appeared to find his mojo.

“I have the highest expectations for myself and you just got to find whatever it is to get you going,” Curry said. “Obviously, it felt good and you want to use that energy to show your teammates that you’re here, that you’re with them and get the crowd into it. But it’s just one game and you have to have that same type of energy and intensions and focus next game."

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures as they took a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals. 

The two teams return to Oracle on Tuesday where Golden State will try to hold home-court advantage and move one step closer to a fourth straight NBA Finals.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm