Now the waiting game begins for the Golden State Warriors and Dub Nation.
Stephen Curry made his expected return in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon against the Houston Rockets, but injured his right knee on the last play of the first half. Curry slipped on a wet spot while defending Trevor Ariza near half court. Curry fell awkwardly and his right knee buckled.
The soon-to-be back-to-back MVP grabbed his right knee immediately. Not wanting to show any sign of weakness and give hope to the opponent, Curry quickly got up with help from his teammates and limped to the locker room. Curry came out to warm up for the second half, but retreated to the locker room soon after. The Warriors announced moments later that Curry suffered a sprained right knee and would not return.
“I said ‘Are you ok?’ and he said ‘Yea, I’m ok,'” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “I said ‘Are you sure? You got to be honest with us.’ (Head physical therapist) Chelsea (Lane) was there as well. He just put his head down. He knew it was not a wise thing to go out there.”
Curry will undergo an MRI for a second time in a week on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
“He was very upset,” Kerr said. “I just feel awful for him. Now hopefully he’s going to be ok before too long. We don’t know, but I just feel so bad for him. He’s been healthy all year long and all of a sudden the playoffs start and a couple fluke things and feel bad for Steph. But we’ve got to move on.”
With an uncertain future for their leader and facing adversity for the first time since last year’s NBA Finals, the Warriors responded the only way they know how. They played their brand of basketball and outscored the Rockets 65-38 in the second half, including 41-20 in the third quarter, and cruised to a 121-94 victory to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
In the decisive third quarter, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson combined to score 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-10 from 3-point range. The Warriors shot 63.6 percent from the field and held Houston to 40 percent shooting.
“Didn’t surprise me one bit that we played so well in the second half,” Kerr said. “Our guys play for each other. I think they were playing for Steph in the second half.”
Curry played 18:35 in the first half. He scored six points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field, including 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Curry notched five assists and committed five turnovers. The teams went into the half tied at 56.
“We felt oddly enough pretty good about the first half,” Kerr said. “We played a beautiful about 10 minutes of the first quarter and the roof kind of caved in on us for a variety of reasons and then it got real choppy. Everything was going their way. To go in at halftime tied was in our minds a victory.”
Thompson finished with 23 points to lead Golden State. Andre Iguodala scored a season-high 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Green got his mojo back and finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and a steal. Shaun Livingston started the second half and recorded seven points and nine assists. The Warriors shot 51.7 percent for the game, hit an NBA playoff-record 21 3-pointers and dished out 38 assists on 46 field goals.
Dwight Howard had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Houston. James Harden had 18 points on 4-of-13 shooting, seven rebounds, 10 assists and seven steals. Michael Beasley added 17 points off the bench. The Rockets shot 42.3 percent for the game, but only 34.1 percent in the second half. Starting point guard Patrick Beverley left the game in the second quarter with a strained right leg.
The entire sports world now awaits the results of Curry’s MRI, which should come Monday afternoon. In any event, the Warriors will try to finish off the Rockets in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.