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Warriors Break Open Game After Curry Goes Down, Take 3-1 Series Lead

Stephen Curry busted his knee, but his teammates busted the game open in the second half on the way to a big win in Game 4. Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Curry busted his knee, but his teammates busted the game open in the second half on the way to a big win in Game 4.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

by Mitchell Evans

The Warriors took a dominating 3-1 series lead Sunday afternoon behind a strong outing from Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, who had 18 and 23 respectively. The Warriors did, however, have a major scare. Just before halftime, after Donatas Motiejunas tripped over James Harden, a sweat spot dripped the floor, where Curry’s left foot slipped, causing him to do a near split and bang his right knee on the hardwood. Curry would limp off, return for warmups, but would then quickly head to the locker room. Early reports said a knee sprain, but we won’t know anything until he gets an MRI on Monday.

“Feel bad for Steph, but we gotta move on,” the Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr said.

The Warriors responded incredibly well, putting up 41 points in the third quarter in response. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson combined for seven threes, and the Warriors all but wrapped up the series, as Game 5 is set for Wednesday at Oracle Arena.

“We showed a lot of character tonight,” Andrew Bogut said of a team that crushed Houston in the aftermath of disaster. Of their mentality, Bogut said, “It’s tough. Steph’s our leader and MVP. But at the same time, without sounding insensitive to Steph, we’ve got a game we’re trying to win.”

The Rockets kept it close, as James Harden was getting to the free throw line on what seemed like every possession down the court. He didn’t get subbed out until 4 minutes into the fourth quarter, when the game was a complete disaster.

The Warriors do have the luxury of having their supporting cast healthy. With Steph out, guys like Andre Iguodala, Ian Clark, and others are even more crucial to the team because they have to keep the flow going. It will be interesting to see how much more time Ian Clark gets moving forward, because while Shaun Livingston is good at getting the ball around, Clark may be the better guy to start the offense. Livingston’s game is on the block, mid-range areas, and it’s difficult to get him in those spots if he has to start at half court.

When asked about the team’s mood going forward, Draymond Green said “Obviously after the win we feel good, but also worried.” He added, “We also know we can still get it done. Confident, worried, tons of emotions.”

They can get it done, only now it will be a waiting game to see just how much this knee issue for Steph sets him back.

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Golden State Warriors Survive Game 1 Curry Scare, Beat Rockets 104-78

Steph was on fire right up until he busted his ankle late in the second quarter. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Steph was on fire right up until he busted his ankle late in the second quarter.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

by Mitchell Evans

Any series involving Draymond Green and Patrick Beverley is going to to be an aggressive one. Early in the first quarter, Beverley made it known how this series was going to go. The problem was, it backfired.

Beverley got into a skirmish with Curry as Steph was trying to dribble to his left around the outer arc, which drew a technical foul on Beverley and resulted into a double technical. After this skirmish, with the Warriors leading 11-4, the lead then extended to 20-8 in favor of Golden State as if they welcomed this type of aggressiveness. Curry finished with 24 points and 7 rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting in just 20 minutes of action. "It felt it was a little too much, so I protected myself and moved on," Curry said.

A scare did occur in the second quarter, when Curry seemed to have tweaked his ankle after a jump shot. He did return to the game, and according to CSN was available if necessary, but did not need to be entered back into the game. Steph is questionable heading into Monday’s Game 2, and he seemed nonchalant about it. "Right now I don't see a scenario I would be out," Curry said, noting that could change if it gets worse or there's risk of further trouble. "Pain tolerance, all that stuff, I kind of know what I can deal with on the court."

With Curry out, the Rockets did outscore the Warriors 48-44 in the second half, though it was already a blowout so it didn’t matter. This does change the impact of Game 2, if Curry were to rest. "You lose the MVP of the NBA, it definitely changes your team," Green said. "There's some concern."

If you’re a Warriors fan, you shouldn’t be concerned. The Warriors can handle business in Game 2, especially at home, without Curry. Most look at the Warriors without Curry and think of the offense, but they held the Rockets to 78 points as a team. Houston won’t be held to under 80 again, but the Warriors do an incredible job of playing an “Anyone but Harden” defense. Ariza, Beverley, and Brewer were a combined 5-of-25 from the field in the game. Even if James Harden goes off and has a 40 point game, the supporting cast from Houston really got locked up and couldn’t hit much.

The most bizarre part of this game was the Rockets' way of responding to the aggressiveness that came back at them after the Beverley incident. It seemed as though the others were uncomfortable with the style of play and it makes it really awkward that Beverley would come out that hot and really backfire the team. Howard said, "I think we allowed it to get us a little frustrated. We've got to figure out a way to play through that." Instead of coming out with fire, everything that didn’t go their way, they would stop and complain; it really took their minds out of the game.

Other notable performers from the Warriors included Draymond Green with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks. Klay Thompson had 16, Mo Speights had 12, and Shaun Livingston added 9. Other than Curry and Draymond (who was plus-28 for the night), Iguodala was a plus-23 on the night.

According to ESPN, Steph Curry is the fourth player in the shot clock era to be the game’s outright leading scorer while playing 20 minutes or fewer in a playoff game. Others who also did this include Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Frank Ramsey. The Warriors and Rockets will play Game 2 in Oakland on Monday night.

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Timberwolves Finish Strong, Whip Pelicans 144-109

Let that hair fly, cheer-babe. The Wolves are looking like a team of the future. Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Let that hair fly, cheer-babe. The Wolves are looking like a team of the future.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

by Tim Quam

Minnesota closed out the 2015-16 season with a 144-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, atoning for a blowout loss to Houston on Monday. It was a nice way for coach Sam Mitchell to end his time as coach. It was announced before the game that the Timberwolves will open a search for a new team president and coach. Mitchell had been an assistant with the team under the late Flip Saunders in 2014-15, and was a player on the franchise’s initial team in 1989-90. The win gave Minnesota a 29-53 season record, a 13-game improvement over the previous season. They were 15-17 in their final 32 games.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Towns closed out his rookie season with a 28-point, 14-rebound effort. He knocked down two three-pointers.

Gorgui Dieng

Dieng scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He was 7-of-8 from the field. He knocked down three-pointers on each of his two attempts beyond the arc. It was his fourth 20-10 game of the season.

Shabazz Muhammad

Bazz co-led the Timberwolves with 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting. It was his third 20-plus-point game in the last five contests.

Tyus Jones

In 26 minutes off the bench, the rookie led Minnesota with 12 assists. He had nine points and knocked down one of the team’s 13 three-pointers.

THE GOOD

It’s always good to end the season with a victory, an opportunity that is one of the great perks of missing the playoffs. Minnesota set a franchise record for points in a game and hit 65.1 from the field and 46.4 from three-point range, where all five starters knocked down three-balls. They outscored the Pelicans in the paint 80-46

THE BAD

Despite out-rebounding New Orleans 43-33, Minnesota was on the short end of offensive boards, 10-5. Such is the price you pay when your big men shoot from the perimeter.

THE UGLY

Minnesota trailed briefly early when it took them nearly two minutes to get on the board, before Dieng made his first basket of the night 1:57 into the first quarter. The Timberwolves went on to a 40-point period.

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