Stephen Curry sparked a second-half comeback to inspire the Golden State Warriors to victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, but suffered a late ankle injury to take the shine off a dramatic win.
Curry rolled badly on his right ankle in the final minute of the Warriors 125-115 win in New Orleans, limping off the court and later leaving the Smoothie King Center on crutches.
X-rays taken after the game however indicated no serious damage although Curry was taking nothing for granted having already suffered an injury to his right ankle earlier in his career.
“I sprained my ankle and I’ll see how it feels tomorrow and kind of go from there,” said Curry, who scored 31 points in the win.
“Obviously, it’s the second situation, but … this is more on the concerned side. I’ve been through this before on this ankle, and knowing the surgical repairs from like five or six years ago are fine, I should be able to bounce back.”
ohhhh no no no no no…. Stephen Curry suffered an ankle injury… pic.twitter.com/GZ2c7NbNWw
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 5, 2017
Earlier, the reigning NBA champions had overturned a 69-49 half-time deficit to grab a victory which improved their record to 19-6.
It was the second time this season that the Warriors had come back from 20 points down or more to claim victory.
No other team in modern NBA history has posted 20-point halftime comebacks in the same season.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr however was unimpressed that his team had once again been required to dig themselves out of a hole of their own making.
“It’s absolutely too much,” Kerr said. “We’re not composed out there. We’re a championship team. We’ve got to be poised and we’ve got to execute.
“We’re getting way too emotional, myself included. We’ve got to show some poise when things aren’t going our way and stop worrying about everything else and just worry about the game.”
That lack of composure was evident in an ugly confrontation between Warriors star Kevin Durant and Pelicans DeMarcus Cousins. Both players were ejected after facing off in the closing minutes of the game.
Durant, who scored 19 points, later reproached himself for his loss of control.
“I can’t get involved with that type of stuff,” Durant said. “I’ve just got to stay locked in and stay focused on the game.
“I’m not going to fight nobody. I don’t want to get injured. I don’t want to get suspended. I love to play. I love making money for my family, so I’m not trying to get suspended.”
Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins were both ejected after this heated confrontation. pic.twitter.com/ySzAAQKf8F
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 5, 2017
Elsewhere Monday, Kyrie Irving scored 32 points as the Boston Celtics overcame a 40-point performance from the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo to score a 111-100 win.
The Celtics, who also had 20 points from Al Horford, improved to 21-4. The Celtics have now won 11 of their last 12 home games.
Irving, who joined Boston from Cleveland earlier this year, paid tribute to his burgeoning understanding with Horford.
“When you’ve got guys who are willing to be as selfless as we are, then it makes everything in terms of our system work,” Irving said.
“Me and Al, we’re pretty selfless guys, but we understand when we’ve got to make our mark in the game and if we do that, whatever’s needed we do.”
HAPPY RETURNS FOR WADE
In Chicago meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers notched a 12th straight win in a 113-91 blowout over the hapless Bulls.
Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love scored 24 points apiece while LeBron James added 23 as the Cavs improved to 17-7 in the Eastern Conference.
It was a satisfying return to Chicago for Wade, who played for the Bulls last year before joining Cleveland.
“I’m just in a good groove and I’m just taking my opportunities as they come,” Wade said.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg meanwhile lamented a loss of concentration in the first half which allowed Cleveland to pull away.
“We had about a five-minute stretch in the first half when we just lost our minds,” Hoiberg said. “It’s those stretches that we have to find a way to eliminate. When we’re not making shots, we have to continue to guard.”
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 5, 2017
The new-look Houston Rockets roared back to beat NBA champions Golden State 122-121 on Tuesday, spoiling a celebratory night at the Warriors’ Oracle Arena in Oakland.
The Warriors marked the opening of the new season by handing out their championship rings and raising their 2016-17 championship banner.
Despite a furious rally by the Rockets, the Warriors thought they had won the game with a last-gasp basket from Kevin Durant, but the clock had expired a fraction of a second before the ball left Durant’s hand and it was the Rockets celebrating at the end of the night.
P.J. Tucker had given Houston the lead with a two free throws with 44.1 seconds remaining.
The Rockets trailed by as many as 17 and by 11 points entering the fourth quarter. They were down 114-107 after a three-pointer from Warriors star Stephen Curry with 5:12 remaining.
But the Rockets wouldn’t go away, producing a late flurry that included a three-point play by Eric Gordon and a three-pointer by Tucker.
Two offensive rebounds gave the Rockets another possession in the final minute. They trailed 121-120 when Tucker was fouled and made both his free throws.
Golden State, who lost only 15 times last season, turned the ball over on their next possession.
They had a chance to win when Curry missed a three-pointer with five seconds left.
A deflection brought the ball to Durant, whose attempt from the baseline fell to thrill the crowd, only for a review to show it left his hand too late.
“I knew I was cutting it close,” Durant said.
James Harden had 27 points, Gordon 24 and Tucker 20 for the Rockets. Former Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, brought in to help the Rockets challenge the Warriors in the West, had just four points with 11 assists and eight rebounds in his debut for Houston.
Nick Young, a new arrival at Golden State this season, led the Warriors with 23 points off the bench.
Curry scored 22 and Durant 20 for the Warriors, who saw Draymond Green depart in the third quarter with a knee strain.
Before exiting, reigning defensive player of the year Green pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out 13 assists to go with nine points.
“He was our best player tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was the guy bringing the energy and the life. We didn’t have much energy from most of the group tonight.
“As soon as he went out of the game things went south for us,” Kerr added. “We just couldn’t get any traction.”
The Warriors became just the fourth defending champions since 2000 to lose their opener the following season.
Provided by AFP Sport
Kevin Durant is set to make a new contract deal and stay with the Golden State Warriors, but the new NBA champions did lose a legendary player on Monday.
Multiple reports said Durant, the Most Valuable Player of this month’s NBA Finals triumph over Cleveland, will opt out of his contract but re-sign with Golden State in a money-saving move under NBA salary cap rules.
But the Warriors lost Jerry West, a member of the team’s executive board who on Monday was named a consultant to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The 79-year-old Hall of Fame guard was an iconic star for the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA’s logo is designed around his silhouette.
Durant, who joined the Warriors last July after finishing his contract with Oklahoma City, plans to decline his player option for the 2017-18 campaign and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, according to reports.
The 10-year NBA veteran would then re-sign with the Warriors, the move enabling the team to have more money for contracts with forward Andre Iguodala and other players.
Durant was to be paid about $28 million in salary next season, but he will take about $4 million less than the maximum deal he could have been paid.
That will better enable the Warriors to keep together the championship roster that includes Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Georgian center Zaza Pachulia and reserves.
Durant won his first NBA crown and helped Golden State claim a second in three seasons by averaging 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the best-of-seven NBA Finals, which the Warriors won over Cleveland in five games.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry becomes a free agent, but has taken less than maximum money in recent years to set up an expected five-year deal worth $205 million. Curry made $12.1 million last season.