Sunday, May 14, 2017

NBA: Warriors survive Game 1, as Spurs lose Kawhi Leonard

Steph Curry scored 40 points and Kevin Durant added 34, and the Golden State Warriors rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-111 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in Oakland on Saturday.

The Spurs were comfortably ahead until Kawhi Leonard was forced to exit the game when he hurt a previously bum left ankle.

But even without San Antonio's best player, the Warriors couldn't put the Spurs away easily.

While Durant accounted for 12 points in the 4th quarter as Golden State clawed its way back into contention, the Warriors needed Curry's offensive heroics in the final 2 minutes to close the deal.

In that stretch, the 2-time MVP scored 7 points, including a triple to tie the game at 106-all and the game-winning floater to make it 113-110 with 9 seconds left.

The Warriors are now 9-0 in the playoffs.

It was a wasted opportunity for the Spurs, who had the Warriors on the ropes until bad luck got in the way.

Leonard hurt his left ankle early in the 3rd quarter -- first, when he stepped on a teammate's foot near the Spurs bench, then again when Zaza Pachulia got under him on a dubious play. He left the game for good with the Spurs ahead 78-55 and a little more than 4 minutes into the 2nd half.

Leonard had 26 points and was perfect from the line (11 of 11) before heading to the dugout. It was the same ankle he sprained in the West semifinals against Houston that forced him to miss the series clincher in Game 6.

The Pachulia play set social media on fire.

Did Zaza Pachulia purposely slide his feet underneath Kawhi Leonard to injure his ankle? 

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 14, 2017

Without Leonard, the Warriors took less than 3 minutes to cut the deficit down to single digits.

The Spurs tried to hold down the fort for as long as they could, but the Warriors with all their weapons proved too much to handle.

A basket by Durant in transition finally put the Warriors in front 101-100 at the 4:09 mark of the 4th, the first time Golden State took the lead.

LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 28 points, but missed a number of key shots in the 4th including the potential game-tying 3 in the dying seconds.