Golden State rallied from a 17-point deficit to win and take a commanding 3-0 series lead against Portland on Saturday night.
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry wasn’t trying to be a hero. He just wanted the win.
Curry scored 34 points — including a three-pointer with just about a minute left that all but sealed the victory — and the Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-113 and take a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Playing without both Kevin Durant and coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors came back Saturday night from a first-half 17-point deficit. Golden State can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.
“It’s not necessarily ‘hero ball,’ it’s being aggressive in those spots that you have,” Curry said. “You might need to force the issue. That might mean taking a shot, it could be trying to get your feet in the paint and make a play, defensively trying to assert yourself — whatever the game calls for, getting ready for those moments.”
Klay Thompson added 24 points in the victory, which Curry said was marked by a handful of “boneheaded mistakes” in the first half. A 19-1 run in the third quarter brought the Warriors back.
Afterward, Curry said he gave the game ball to general Manager Bob Myers to give to Kerr, who stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.
The Warriors took a 108-100 lead, their biggest of the game, after Andre Iguodala’s dunk with 4:05 to go.
Noah Vonleh’s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with his three-pointer sent fans streaming for the exits.
CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.
“I don’t think it’s ever been done, coming back from 3-0, especially against a team like Golden State,” Lillard said afterward. “But I’m sure a lot of you guys know I’m not one to quit and I’m very optimistic.”
Portland saw the return of big man Jusuf Nurkic after he missed the final seven games of the regular season and the first two playoff games at Golden State because of a non-displaced fracture in his right leg. A 7-footer known as the Bosnian Beast, Nurkic finished with two points and 11 rebounds.
The Warriors routed the Blazers 110-81 in Game 2 on Wednesday night. Durant injured his left calf in the third quarter of Sunday’s 121-109 Game 1 victory, but finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Energized by a raucous home crowd, Portland jumped out to an early 17-9 lead on Vonleh’s dunk. Portland extended the lead in the second quarter, with Al-Farouq Aminu and Allen Crabbe showing spark after being largely quiet in the first two games. Crabbe’s three-pointer and a free throw put Portland up 49-33.
A 14-5 run put the Blazers up 65-48, but Curry hit a three-pointer and a long jumper for the Warriors to close out the half down 67-54. Curry and Thompson were off in the opening half, going 8 of 25 from the field with just two three-pointers — both from Curry.
The Warriors went on a 21-3 run to pull in front 85-83, capped by a pair of baskets from Iguodala and Draymond Green. Portland led 88-87 going into the final quarter.
Warriors assistant Mike Brown stood in for Kerr, who still experiences lingering symptoms from complications following two back surgeries after the franchise’s run to the 2015 championship. He missed the first 43 games last season dealing with symptoms such as headaches, nausea and an aching neck.
Despite his prolonged absence, the Warriors went 73-9 last season and played in the NBA championship game. Kerr was named Coach of the Year.
“I don’t know all of the circumstances,” Brown said before the game. “He’s just not feeling well, and we’ll see how he feels later on.”
Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain), and Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain) were also out for the Warriors.
The Warriors defeated the Blazers in five games in the second round last season, en route to the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The surprising Blazers got past the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening round after falling to a 2-0 deficit.
Golden State finished atop the conference this season with the best overall record in the NBA (67-15). The Blazers finished eighth after a late-season surge that saw them go 17-6 after March 1.
Warriors: David West was assessed a flagrant foul for pushing Portland’s Evan Turner in the first half. Turner was handed an unsportsmanlike conduct technical. … The Philadelphia Warriors won the inaugural league title with a Game 5 win against Chicago 70 years ago on Saturday.
Trail Blazers: Portland’s bench, which struggled in the first two games of the series, combined for 19 points and 13 rebounds in the first half. … Lillard has 15 playoff games with 25-plus, second-most in franchise history to Clyde Drexler with 29.
WILL HE OR WON’T HE: While the prevailing wisdom suggests the Warriors should just rest Durant for Game 4 since the Warriors are so close to wrapping up the series, it sounded on Saturday night as though he may still be hoping to play.
Asked on his way out of the win made him more excited to come back, he replied: “Yes, I’m juiced right now!”
The Warriors can clinch the series on Monday night at the Moda Center.
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