The MVP wasn’t in peak form early. He got off to one of the worst 3-point shooting starts of his career. It had been nearly four weeks since he last played a whole basketball game.
Then overtime provided a canvas for Stephen Curry to paint a picture, one that showed why he is the game’s best player.
Curry came off the bench to score 17 of his 40 points in the extra period, as the Warriors pulled out a 132-125 win Monday in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Warriors took a 3-1 lead in the series and can close out the series with a win in Game 5 on Wednesday in Oakland, where Curry is soon expected to be crowned the MVP for a second straight season.
Two weeks after spraining his right knee, Curry hit three 3-pointers in overtime and lasted for 37 minutes. He was needed for all of those after starting point guard Shaun Livingston got ejected earlier in the game.
Curry finished 5 for 16 from 3-point range, saving his best for last. Klay Thompson scored 23 points. Draymond Green had 21 points and nine rebounds.
Curry got the best of Damian Lillard, who scored 36 points. CJ McCollum added 24 points. Curry finally made his first 3-pointer with 4:35 left to give the Warriors a 103-100 lead, celebrating with a shimmy after having missed his first nine attempts from beyond the arc.
But after the shot, Lillard had a reply. He scored on a layup and then drilled a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound to give the Trail Blazers a 105-103 lead with 2:47 left.
Curry made his second 3-pointer to pull the Warriors to within 107-106. Lillard responded with a jump shot. Curry then passed to Green for a dunk.
After Mason Plumlee scored on a layup over Curry to give the Warriors a 3-point lead, Harrison Barnes tied the score at 111 with a 3-pointer with 51.9 seconds left.
The game went to overtime after Curry had the ball in his hands facing off against Lillard with the shot clock off, missed a bank shot, and Green’s tip-in at the buzzer also missed.
Curry checked into the game, skipping onto the court in the first quarter at a critical point in the game for the Warriors. Lillard had scored nine straight points to give the Trail Blazers a 16-2 lead, and the Warriors got off to a putrid 1-for-12 start from the field.
The Trail Blazers led by as many as 16 points after McCollum scored five straight points, but then Curry started shooting.
Curry missed a layup with his first shot attempt before making a jump shot as part of the Warriors’ 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 21-14. He airballed his next shot _ a 3-point attempt _ drawing jeers from the Moda Center crowd.
Curry hit another jump shot and then passed the ball to Festus Ezeli for a dunk as the Warriors cut the deficit to six points and finished the quarter trailing 26-18.
Marreese Speights came out firing in the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a four-point game. McCollum scored seven straight Trail Blazers points to give them a 46-35 lead. Andre Iguodala capped a 10-0 run with a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to three.
Then Livingston snapped and got ejected with 1:36 left in the half. He felt he got fouled after scoring on a layup to make the score 58-52, argued the call coming down the floor for one technical foul and then got tossed for cursing at referee Scott Foster.
Lillard converted one free throw before Allen Crabbe and Al-Farouq Aminu hit back-to back 3-pointers to push the lead to 65-52.
Curry responded with a 3-point play, but the Warriors trailed by 10 at halftime.
With Livingston out, Curry started the second half. He kept missing from beyond the arc, starting 0 for 9 from 3-point range. Inside the arc, he made an impact.
Curry knifed through the defense for a layup that cut the Trail Blazers’ lead to 76-73.
The Warriors soon took their first lead of the game, thanks to Green.
Green, who promised to play with more of a sense of urgency coming into the game, hit a 3-pointer before blocking Lillard and Mason Plumlee at the rim. His career-best sixth block of the game led to Thompson’s 3-pointer on the other end that gave the Warriors a 79-78 lead.