As expected, the two teams with the NBA’s best records faced off in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals last Sunday at Oracle Arena.
What wasn’t expected was Golden State, the squad with the best regular-season record at 67 wins, would fall behind San Antonio after each quarter, including a staggering 25-point deficit in the second period.
But in the waning minutes, the Warriors remained poised and pushed ahead for a 113-111 victory behind point guard Stephen Curry’s game-best 40 points.
When asked the difference between the first and second half, Curry, who added seven rebounds with three assists and three steals, said it was focusing on the task at hand.
“We were decisive and aggressive in the second half,’’ noted Curry, a two-time Most Valuable Player. “In the first half we were taking bad shots and trying to do too much.’’
The Warriors took control 111-106 with 38.9 seconds left on Curry’s hoop via a goal-tending and a basket and free throw from power forward Draymond Green (nine points with seven boards and seven assists).
Golden State forged ahead 101-100 with 3:44 on the clock after small forward Kevin Durant hit a five-footer seconds earlier.
San Antonio led 94-85 with 8:53 left when power forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored and was fouled, but missed the charity toss.
The Warriors trailed 94-90 with 7:19 remaining after Durant (34 points with five caroms and four assists) put in a jam and a three-pointer 20 seconds earlier.
Golden State fell behind 62-42 at the half and 90-81 heading into the final period as Curry scored 19 points after tallying 14 at the intermission.
In the third period, the Warriors scored 18 straight points that coincided with San Antonio small forward Kawhi Leonard (26 points with eight rebounds and three assists) reinjuring his left ankle with 7:53 left and not returning.
Golden State (39 of 81 for 48.1 percent) trimmed San Antonio’s lead to 75-55 with 8:44 on the clock on Curry’s three-pointer.
After Durant canned a pair of free throws, San Antonio’s advantage was cut to 78-62 with 7:03 on the ticker.
With 4:43 remaining, Curry’s 20-footer shaved San Antonio’s cushion to 78-71.
The Spurs darted ahead 21-14 with 2:07 left in the first quarter as Aldridge (team-high 28 points with eight rebounds and three assists) scored and made a free throw.
San Antonio (47.6 percent on 40 of 84 field goals) eased in front 30-16 after the first stanza on Aldridge’s dunk just before the buzzer.
When Leonard scored on a layup and 9:03 left in the second quarter, the lead was stretched to 37-19.
Durant’s two free throws with 5:41 left cut the lead to 46-27 and Curry’s steal off an inbounds pass and trey shaved it to 46-32 with 5:05 showing.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.