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NBA Playoffs 2016

Worry for Warriors as they go ‘back to square one’ with injured Curry; Spurs sweep into semis

Golden State’s superstar comes back from ankle injury only to twist knee

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 April, 2016, 9:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 April, 2016, 9:53am

For Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, it was a case of “back to square one” after reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry returned from an ankle injury on Sunday only to suffer a fluke knee strain.

Curry ended up playing just 18 minutes in the first half of Game Four between the Warriors and Rockets in Houston before he slipped on a wet spot and limped off to the locker room.

The Warriors guard tested his knee on court during half-time but, on the advice of team doctors and Kerr, he did not return to the game as Golden State completed a 121-94 rout of Houston to lead the best-of-seven series 3-1.

Curry, who missed the previous two games in the Western Conference first-round series after spraining his right ankle in the opener, is scheduled to have an MRI scan on his right knee on Monday, Kerr said during a post-game news conference.

“I just feel awful for him,” said Kerr. “Now hopefully he’s going to be okay before too long. We don’t know.

“He’s been healthy all year long and all of a sudden the playoffs start and a couple of fluke things.”

Kerr said that Curry, the league’s leading scorer who averaged 30.1 points, 6.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds during the regular season, had been eager to return to the court for the third quarter.

“I said to him, ‘Are you okay?’ And he said, ‘I’m okay.’ I said, ‘Are you sure? You’ve got to be honest with us.’ And he just put his head down and he knew,” Kerr explained.

“He knew it was not a wise thing to do, to go out there. We had talked with the doctors about just seeing how he felt, trying it out with a warm-up session. He went out there, tried to move on it and it wasn’t right.

“He still wanted to play and we wouldn’t let him. You saw. He was very upset.”

Curry scored just six points on two-of-nine shooting in the first half, missing six of seven three-shot attempts while turning the ball over five times.

“It looked like his conditioning was fine, he just couldn’t get his rhythm,” said Kerr. “I thought he was trying to do too much off the dribble. He was pressing a little bit.

“I didn’t mind the shots. He was trying to get himself going with a lot of threes which was fine because the way Steph goes, sometimes he just makes one and the floodgates open up.

“But I thought his movement looked good and his conditioning was better than I expected and then he slips on the wet spot and unfortunately back to square one. We will see what happens with the MRI tomorrow.”

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green paced a three-point barrage in the third quarter that carried the Warriors to a 3-1 lead in the series.

Moments after losing Curry, Thompson and Green unleashed a hail of three-pointers that turned a nip-and-tuck affair into a 21-point lead entering the fourth quarter in Houston.

Meanwhile, in the other Western Conference game, the San Antonio Spurs swept into the second round of, eliminating the Grizzlies in four games with a 116-95 triumph in Memphis.

The Spurs, seeded second in the Western Conference, became the first team to reach the conference semi-finals, powering past a Grizzlies team beset by injuries – most notably to Spanish big man Marc Gasol.

In the next round the Spurs will face either Oklahoma City or Dallas. The Thunder, led by the star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, lead the Mavericks 3-1 in their series.

Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points as the Spurs routed the Memphis Grizzlies 116-95 on Sunday, sweeping the best-of-seven first-round series.

“It wasn’t a fair fight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of playing a team that set an NBA record with 28 Grizzlies playing this season. “Whoever was available came out and played, and they executed to the best of their ability. They played with a lot of heart and a lot of fortitude.”