Stephen Curry sat on the bench with his head in his hands, facing another injury that could derail Golden State’s playoff run.
The Warriors felt bad for the reigning most valuable player, but instead of sulking they responded with a huge third quarter to pull away from the Houston Rockets and cruise to a 121-94 victory Sunday in Houston that gave them a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
“When you have a team that is as together as ours is and cares about each other like ours does, you tend to pick up the fight a little bit,” Coach Steve Kerr said. “Our guys sensed that we needed to come together.”
Klay Thompson (23 points) made four of his seven threes in the third as the Warriors made a franchise playoff-record eight in that quarter en route to an NBA playoff-record 21.
Curry returned after missing two games with a sprained right ankle, but did not play in the second half after spraining his right knee on the final play of the second quarter. He’ll have an MRI exam on Monday.
Golden State used a 41-point third quarter to take control of the game. The Warriors bested the NBA record they shared for threes in a playoff game — set last year against these Rockets — when Brandon Rush made one from the top of the key with about 2 1/2 minutes left.
Dwight Howard led Houston with 19 points and 15 rebounds. James Harden had 18 points, 10 assists and seven steals.
“When the moment called for us to raise our intensity level, we dropped our guard,” Houston Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “When their guy went down, you could see the intent in their guys’ eyes. The moment we needed to match their intensity, we didn’t do it.”
Curry slid awkwardly to the court while defending on the last play before halftime and immediately grabbed his knee. He got up and looked to have trouble putting weight on it before jogging with a limp to the locker room. He came out with the team after halftime, but sat on the bench for most of the warmup time. After talking with coaches, he returned to the locker room.
San Antonio 116, at Memphis 95: Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points as the Spurs finished a sweep of a best-of-seven series and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.
San Antonio now awaits the winner of Oklahoma City-Dallas, a series that the Thunder lead 3-1.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Spurs. Tony Parker added 16 points. David West had 11.
Lance Stephenson scored 26 points off the bench for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph and Matt Barnes each had 15 points, and Vince Carter 14.
The Spurs opened the third quarter with a 22-8 run and finished by hitting 14 of 22 of their shots to outscore Memphis 37-21. The Grizzlies hit only eight of 22 in the quarter.
Cleveland 100, at Detroit 98: Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half, and the Cavaliers finished off a four-game sweep, advancing to the second round to play either Atlanta or Boston.
LeBron James had 22 points for Cleveland, but it was Irving who made the biggest shots all night. His midcourt buzzer beater put the Cavs up 81-78 after the third quarter, and with Cleveland clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, he calmly sank a three-pointer from the right wing with 42 seconds remaining.
Marcus Morris led Detroit with 24 points, but the Pistons lost to Cleveland for the 12th straight time in the postseason.
at Boston 104, Atlanta 95 (OT): Isaiah Thomas (28 points) hit a corner three-pointer with 30 seconds left in overtime and then added a pair of clinching free throws as the Celtics sent their first-round playoff series back to Atlanta tied two games apiece.
Paul Millsap scored 45 for the Hawks — a career playoff high and one off his all-time best — and added 13 rebounds.
Marcus Smart scored 20 points — including 11 straight for Boston in the fourth quarter — and Jonas Jerebko had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Celtics led by four with under a minute to play in regulation when Jeff Teague hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Atlanta the lead. But Thomas drove for a layup to tie it 92-all with 15 seconds left.
The Hawks had a chance to win in regulation before Teague dribbled out the clock without getting off a clean shot.