By Marcus Thompson II
OAKLAND — It might’ve taken all the defibrillators in the Bay Area to revive the nearly 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena whose hearts stopped Thursday.
Golden State nearly squandered an 18-point lead, and another star-like performance from point guard Stephen Curry — who changed the tide of the game with another big third quarter before his home crowd. But in the end, after a compilation of turnovers, guard Jarrett Jack made a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets, clinching the riveting first-round upset, 4-2.
The sixth-seeded Warriors advance to the second round against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 is Monday in Texas.
“When we were down in the first half,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I pulled him aside and said, ‘There’s going to be a point in this game where you’re going to take over because you’re the best player on the floor. And what will happen is everybody else will follow you. And sure enough …”
Perhaps having been through it so much has made him comfortable. But Curry wasn’t moping about this latest injury. Instead, he decided to have some fun with it.
Curry checked out of the game with 2:26 left in the third quarter after spraining his left ankle. He tried to stop on a dime and rolled it pretty good. He came back in the fourth quarter and finished the game. Certainly, winning Game 2 helped his mood. And that it wasn’t his right ankle, which has given him problems for the last couple years.
Curry was feeling good enough to joke about his sprained left ankle on Twitter Monday. He solicited his followers’ best ankle puns. The quips poured in.
“There were so many of them,” Curry said, sitting on the scorer’s table before practice.
I cornered Warriors general manager Bob Myers to talk to him about his star player. Not even six months ago, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place with Stephen Curry. He wanted to sign him, but was it wise to pump all that money into a player with a persistent, perhaps career-threatening ankle issue? Is it too precarious to let him play it out and see how his ankle responds, risking he goes off and gets a max contact the Warriors couldn’t match?
In the end, Curry took a discount and Myers took a leap of faith. And now, they’re in the playoffs and Myers looks like a genius.
Q: You said you gave Curry the extension because you believed in him. Why?
You know why I had such a strong belief in that is because of who he is. Usually in life, the people who deserve success and put in all the time— even if you have obstacles and hurdles to overcome — usually it does happen. He happened to have some major hurdles. Not that anybody deserves that, but he didn’t deserve it. He doesn’t deserve it. He handles life the right way, he treats people the right way. So I always felt like a guy like him, he was going to get his opportunity to shine. And he obviously has.”