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Warriors handle Rockets in series opener despite Stephen Curry ankle scare

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game One

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 16: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after hitting a three-point shot over Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets in the first quarter in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 16, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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If you’re a Warriors fan, the three words you least want to hear together are “Stephen Curry” and “ankle.” Curry tweaked his right ankle near the end of the second quarter, went to the locker room before halftime, played three minutes at the start of the third quarter and came out again to get the ankle looked at. The team said he was available to return, but he never did.

Not that Golden State needed him — the Warriors fought off a third-quarter Rockets run without Curry and won 104-78.

After an awful first half in which he finished with the same number of fouls as points (four), James Harden heated up in the second half, scoring 13 points and cutting the Warriors’ lead from 29 to 16, before Golden State pulled away again.

Golden State’s attack without Curry (who led all scorers with 24 points despite playing just 20 minutes) was balanced, and they never let the Rockets get into a rhythm even when they mounted the beginnings of a comeback attempt in the third quarter.

By the fourth quarter, the Rockets had emptied their bench and gave K.J. McDaniels the opportunity to make a few highlight blocks. So they had that going for them.

Since Curry was available to return to the game, but afterwards, Steve Kerr said he’s questionable for Monday.

The Warriors’ only goal in this series, which has never really been in any kind of doubt for them, is to get out unscathed. A first-quarter altercation between Curry and Patrick Beverley underscored what is going to be a physical battle. They can handle the Rockets without Curry, as they demonstrated in the second half on Saturday. The next two rounds won’t be so easy if there’s anything wrong with him.