Steph Curry’s perfect fourth quarter spares Warriors another heartbreak – NBC Sports Bay Area & California


SAN FRANCISCO – Barely had the final buzzer sounded when Stephen Curry went prancing along the sideline, gesturing toward the roaring throng. His tortured heart could once again experience the joy of triumph.

“We haven’t won in a while,” Curry said after scoring 37 points to lead the Warriors to a 124-120 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night at Chase Center. “It’s nice to get over the hump, get to the finish line with a win.”

The finish line has been visible but elusive for the Warriors, and here they were locked in another clutch game, their NBA-high 21st. But nobody epitomized the adjective more than Curry. Golden State’s performance was choppy, uneven, and hardly perfect – until their superstar was when it counted most.

During a fourth quarter in which there were two ties and four lead changes, Curry was 7 of 7 from the field, including 2 of 2 from deep, scoring 16 points. He scored 12 in a row during a two-minute, 12-second stretch. No more ties or lead changes. Game.

“He willed us to victory,” Klay Thompson said of Curry after Golden State won for only the third time in three weeks. “We appreciate him.

“He was special tonight. Just his ability to create shots and make shots from all over the floor, at the rim, midrange, from 25 feet is something probably that you will never see again in this league. I’m grateful for Steph’s performance. It really put us over the edge.”

Curry clearly was determined to ensure the Warriors, having developed a new habit of late-game collapses that lead to heartbreaking defeats, would not let this one get away. When the Warriors, who led by 16 at halftime, started slipping it was clear among anxious fans were fearing another winnable game landing in the “L” column.

Curry stepped in. With both feet.

“Steph was sublime down the stretch,” coach Steve Kerr said. “That was unreal. We’ve seen him do this over and over again, but it never ceases to amaze me what that guy is capable of.”

Curry’s timing was exquisite. This was a long week for all the Warriors, who returned home after 10 days on the road during which they lost every game while enduring the turbulence related to Draymond Green’s suspension, his second this season, this one indefinite.

Throughout the uneasiness, no one felt the burden of leading the team on the court and being its spokesperson as much as Curry.

“There’s been a lot of conversations,” Curry said. “A lot of noise around us. We had a meeting the day before the game (against the Clippers on Thursday in Los Angeles) that was important for us to settle on where we were and what was going on. Everybody said how they felt.

“The game of basketball presents a lot of challenges on the court. But the friendships you have, the connections you have, especially with a guy like Draymond – who we’ve been to war with for over a decade – all that stuff does weigh on you because you’re trying to figure it out. You’re trying to support him.

“It’s just basketball, but there is a lot of stress that you carry to perform while you’re managing all the emotions that are going and trying to be in the right place for each other. It’s a lot.”

It showed. Though Curry adjusted his pregame routine, warming up earlier than usual, it appeared he might not find his best stuff. He was, after all, coming off back-to-back road games during which he shot 13-of-41 (31.7 percent) from the field, including 7-of-28 (25.0 percent) beyond the arc.

Facing the terrific defense of Brooklyn forward Mikal Bridges, Steph managed only six field-goal attempts in the first half and had 21 points on 7-of-15/4-of-6 shooting through three quarters.

The fourth belonged to Curry. And, after his 12-point flurry, to the Warriors.

“It gave us confidence,” Kerr said. “That’s the biggest issue when you’re struggling, and maybe you’re emotionally spent a little bit. You have to find confidence. So, I think Steph just infuses us with confidence.”

The Warriors have lost seven games, including two in the last four days, by fewer than four points. This, for a while, looked to be another. Curry wanted no part of that feeling.

After so many restless, demoralizing nights, this one is to be savored and, boy, did Curry savor. He had earned the right to prance. Dance, even. Loss avoided, victory assured, at least a temporary respite from the storm.

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