If you’re a little bit lost — which the Warriors were in dropping their first two games after losing Kevin Durant to a knee injury — it’s a nice luxury to have someone like Steph Curry to guide you back to the path.
Curry took on a familiar leading role in helping the Warriors pull ahead for good in Sunday’s 112-105 victory over the Knicks at the Garden, ending their first two-game losing streak since April 2015. He had 15 of his 31 points in the third quarter, when the Warriors scored 35 and opened an eight-point lead.
The two-time MVP was at his best in the final 90 seconds of the quarter, scoring eight straight Golden State points. He took a rebound the length of the court and spun in for a layup over Kristaps Porzingis. Then Curry made two three-pointers off the bounce for an 84-76 edge. The Knicks got within a point in the fourth quarter but never caught up.
“That’s what Steph does. He’s probably better than anybody in the league in terms of closing quarters with big shots and momentum-changing shots,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It was huge.”
Curry was in a 4-for-31 three-point slump in the previous three games. He missed all four he took in the first half but was 5-for-9 after intermission.
“It was huge for us as a team to build a lead,” Draymond Green said, “but it was also huge to see him do that.”
“You want to create momentum going into the fourth quarter and try to create some separation,” Curry said. “We got stops down the stretch and I was obviously able to convert on the other end. There are moments in the game where it can go either way, so you’ve got to take advantage of those moments on the road. I wouldn’t call [them] a dagger because there was a lot of game left, but make some big shots and create some momentum.”
Durant is expected to be re-evaluated in four weeks. Even for the loaded Warriors, losing their top scorer requires a major adjustment.
“We’re surviving to this point,” Kerr said. “We lost the first two games without him, so it’s good to win without him tonight. This is how it’s going to be for a while, so we have to get used to it.”
Klay Thompson (29 points) said the goal is “withstand the next few weeks without him and be better for it when he returns.”
“We have a lot of talent in the locker room, a lot of versatility,” Curry said. “We happened to hit a tough road the last two games, but it’s a long season. Nothing is going to be perfect about your journey, so everybody is stepping up. We’re going to find our flow like we always do.”