A late steal from Andre Iguodala saved the Golden State Warriors from an embarrassing collapse on Friday night, but the 114-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks was all about the tweaked right ankle of Stephen Curry.
On a night when the Warriors capped their mini-road swing with a 3-0 record and Curry once again injured his balky ankle, here’s what you need to know…
The Warriors probably wish they never brought Curry back into the game. Right after becoming the first player in NBA history to produce six seasons with at least 200 3-pointers, Curry went careening through the lane, rose into the air and then landed on the foot of Zaza Pachulia, rolling his ankle in the process.
The first-quarter injury was an all too familiar scene for the two-time MVP who missed nearly a month with an injury to the same ankle earlier in the season. After disappearing into the locker room, Curry would return in the second with a flourish, scoring 11 points in the first three minutes back and finishing the half with 25.
Then in the third quarter, head performance therapist Chelsea Lane noticed a limp and that was that, Curry exited for good. Kerr told reporters after the game the decision was precautionary. Curry said he fought to stay in.
“When I knew both of them were hanging out with me, I knew I was fighting an uphill battle,” Curry said with a smile. “So, it is what it is. I don’t think it’s going to be anything that will keep me out.”
Curry didn’t sound stressed but another ankle tweak — he missed 11 games with an ankle injury in December — was not how the Warriors wanted to cap an otherwise strong trip.
Andre Iguodala sealed the win with a spectacular defensive play. With 11 seconds on the clock and the Warriors clinging to a three-point advantage, Iguodala poked the ball through the legs of Kent Bazemore, snatched it up and threw down the hammer dunk to secure the win.
“That was like taking candy from a baby right there,” Kevin Durant told the NBC Sports Bay Area broadcast. “That was a clean pick.”
The Hawks’ backcourt made this one much closer than it should have been. With Curry exiting early and Shaun Livingston (rest) and Patrick McCaw (wrist) missing, Hawks guard Dennis Schroder and Bazemore were cooking for, almost, the whole night.
The host’s backcourt pairing combined for 56 points while shooting 54 percent from the field. At the end of the third quarter, Schroder began the rally with a spectacular half-court heave, beating the buzzer.
The point guard also spearheaded the furious comeback attempt, which, in the space of the final 2:18, turned an 11-point game into a one-possession affair. Ultimately, Iguodala’s theft of Bazemore is what closed out the game. That sequence put a major damper on a night that saw the former Warrior sink five of seven attempts from the beyond the arc.
With the Warriors short-handed, Nick Young seized the moment. Young didn’t waste any time making his mark with the Warriors lacking for options on the wings. The reserve began by pouring in 11 points — and going 3-for-3 from distance — in his first three minutes of action.
Young ended up playing 23 minutes — including important death-lineup run — scoring 16 points (5-for-9 from the field, 4-for-8 from 3) and finishing +7.
Draymond Green hardly shot but he left his imprints all over the win. Green only attempted three field goals (and made just one), but he was masterful when it came to setting up the rest of the squad.
Ending the night with nine assists, Green had five dimes in the opening quarter. Per ESPN Stats & Info, his teammates were a perfect 5-for-5 off his passes in the first period. The Warriors had been 11-for-13 in the game before that. Quite the run of passing.