After Stephen Curry on Friday bounced back from the first scoreless opening half of his playoff career to score 33 points in the last two quarters, coach Steve Kerr stopped to talk with his star’s parents.
He said he told them: “If that game didn’t personify Steph Curry, I don’t know what does.”
Curry’s huge second half allowed the Golden State Warriors to overcome the absence of Kevin Durant to get a 118-113 win over the Houston Rockets and advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Curry heard the chatter about how he had struggled in this series and admitted that he was “pretty terrible” before halftime.
“A night like tonight doesn’t happen without belief in myself,” Curry said.
Klay Thompson added 27 points to help the two-time defending champions reach the conference finals for a franchise-record fifth straight year and eliminate Houston for the fourth time in five seasons.
“That was an absolute grind,” Kerr said. “We’re thrilled to be moving on and excited to have this one in our rearview mirror.”
James Harden led Houston with 35 points, while Chris Paul added 27.
Harden’s layup got the Rockets within three with less than a minute to go, but Thompson made a three-pointer with 36.1 seconds remaining to extend Golden State’s lead to 110-104.
Gerald Green then missed a three for Houston and the Rockets were forced to foul Curry. He made both shots before Harden’s three got Houston within five at 112-107 with 24 seconds left.
Playing with a dislocated finger on his left hand, Curry made two more free throws before P.J. Tucker hit a three for Houston, but two more free throws by Curry made it 116-110 with 12.3 seconds left and Harden dribbled it off his foot for the last of his six turnovers.
“We’ve let a lot of opportunities slip away... If you don’t take advantage of opportunities you end up on the losing side,” Harden said.
The Rockets failed to score for a big chunk of the fourth quarter and had to watch the Warriors celebrate a series victory on their home court for the second straight season.
Harden was 11 of 25 from the field, going six of 15 from three-point range, and seven of 12 on free throws.
“This one’s going to leave a mark,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “This is not something you just get over. This one hurts. We played our best and they played their best, and we didn’t knock them out. It was like a heavyweight fight. We didn’t land the blows to at least get back to Golden State.”
There were questions entering the game about how the Warriors would weather the loss of Durant and his more than 34 points a game, but they did not seem to miss a beat, getting 21 from Thompson in the first half before Curry closed it in the fourth.
“When you’re missing one of the greatest players to ever play and the best scorer in the world, you can’t collectively make up for what he does,” Thompson said. “But you can step up in his absence and help out the point production.”
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
Neymar on Sunday claimed that he had been the victim of racism as he was one of five players sent off in a mass brawl at the end of Olympique de Marseille’s 1-0 win over Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. PSG’s Brazilian star appeared to accuse Alvaro Gonzalez of calling him a “monkey” in a series of furious tweets after he was sent off in stoppage-time for slapping the Marseille defender on the back of the head. “Look at the racism. That’s why I hit him,” Neymar, who was returning from COVID-19 quarantine, said as he left the pitch. “The only regret I