SAN ANTONIO — Having played all but four seconds of a 58-minute playoff game Monday, Stephen Curry dragged himself into the interview room looking exhausted and doing all he could to avoid sounding defeated.
He had performed to the limits of his endurance, surely leaving a part of himself on the floor. Finishing with 44 points and 11 assists, Curry had put his team in command, seemingly done enough to finally vanquish the San Antonio Spurs, who have a long-held dominance over the Golden State Warriors.
And yet it was not enough. The Spurs pulled themselves together for a stirring comeback to tie the game in the final minutes, sending it into overtime and then double overtime before taking a 129-127 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals. Curry and the Warriors were left to deal with heartbreak.
Well continue to learn, said Curry, a former star at Davidson. Well continue to go through these tough experiences and learn as a team.
Curry and his teammates, as well as coach Mark Jackson, said they will get over this, pointing out how they recovered after losing Game 1 of their first-round series with Denver before coming back to win four of the next five to advance.
Were a young basketball team that will be better at the end of the day for playing against the San Antonio Spurs, Jackson said.
The Warriors went up 16, 98-82, with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Curry was putting on another fantastic shooting display. He wasnt supposed to be able to run his game at San Antonio. This is where his rise would begin its descent.
Yet Curry was taking it to the Spurs, scoring 22 points in the third quarter on 9-of-12 shooting, 4-of-6 from 3-point distance. He was producing and directing, delivering another of those patented displays for which no opponent seems to have a solution.
Wouldnt this give the Warriors enough of a cushion to withstand a comeback?
Well, no. There were unsightly turnovers, sloppy defense and suddenly ice-cold shooting. There were five field goals, three by Curry, in a 14-point fourth quarter.
And when Spurs guard Manu Ginobili drained a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left in double overtime, taking the Warriors down for the night, the lesson was over. Painful, but over.
That shot also sent the Warriors losing streak in San Antonio to an astonishing 30 games, dating more than 16 years.
When Kent Bazemores layup gave the Warriors a one-point lead with 3.9 second left in double overtime, this was the end of The Streak. It was over, dead at 29.
If the Warriors cant win this kind of game, how on earth are they supposed to believe theyll find a way to steal a close one at San Antonio?
We know how to come back because we have been a resilient team all year, Curry said. We just have to turn it back on and be ready for Game 2.