– Golden State coach Mark Jackson recently proclaimed his guards - Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson - as the best shooting backcourt in the history of the league.
“I told (Thompson) at halftime ‘That it’s, end of discussion, one of the greatest halves ever,’ ” Jackson said. “Not only what he did offensively but what he did defensively.”
The young Warriors withstood another furious rally by the San Antonio Spurs for a 100-91 victory Wednesday night to even their series at one game apiece and snap a 30-game skid in the Alamo City.
Thompson finished with 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting, including 8-of-9 from downtown, as well as a bushel of rebounds, three steals and three assists. This was, coming after Curry’s 44-point Game 1.
“Your stat line,” Curry marveled, looking at Thompson, “is amazing.
Curry, a former Davidson star, added 22 points for Golden State, which had not won in San Antonio since Feb. 14, 1997.
The Warriors blew a 16-point lead with 4 minutes left in regulation in the series opener and lost 129-127 in double overtime Monday night. No NBA team had blown such a big lead with such little time left in a playoff game.
It appeared Golden State was headed for a similar collapse Wednesday night, but the heartbreaking loss actually helped settle the players' nerves.
“Coach told us to have amnesia at halftime,” Curry said. “We're a young team so that might help that we can forget about it and just keep playing and having fun, not worry about that 19-point lead getting cut to six. That's going to happen; you're on the road against a great veteran basketball team, so you can't get too rattled.”
Thompson, who scored 29 points in the first half, finished 8 for 9 on 3-pointers and 13 for 26 overall.
After scoring 44 points in the opener, Curry's total was cut in half as he shot 7 for 20 from the field.
“I thought it was polite of (Curry and Thompson) to at least take turns and not both be on fire on the same night,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovic said. “Maybe the next iteration (of that) will be neither one of them will be hot in Game 3, that's what I'm hoping.”
Curry opened Game 2 with a pair of 3 pointers, one over a charging Duncan. He finished with 11 points in the quarter, going 3 for 4 from the field and 2 for 3 on 3s. He was limited to 9 minutes after picking up two fouls.
Curry's second 3 sparked a 14-6 run that gave Golden State a 17-12 lead. He had eight points in the run and Thompson added five.
The Spurs focused their defense on Curry in the first half to varying success.
Curry did not score in the final 10 minutes of the first half, but his drives drew the defense and freed his teammates for open jumpers. He was credited with only two assists in the quarter, but his presence helped Golden State outscore San Antonio 30-24.
“I think for seven-and-a-half quarters, we’ve played better basketball than (the Spurs) have,” Curry said as he accepted congratulations walking to the team bus. “So you want more to show for it. But the fact that we came back from that collapse and got this win, it makes up for that feeling.”
“We needed this win to exorcise the demons,” Curry said. “I really think us going through the situation, now we truly realize how big of a deal this is – what we’re doing.”
Former North Carolina standout Harrison Barnes had 13 points for Golden State.
The Warriors host Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 Sunday.
Now the Spurs have a problem. They entered Game 1 worried about Curry and couldn’t stop him. They entered Game 2 worried about Curry and got drilled by Thompson.
Where do they go from here?
“Klay was unbelievable,” Popovich said, now serious. “A lot of those shots were tough. Some of them were wide open because of mistakes, but others were difficult shots, either contested or off-balance. He knocked them down. That’s what the playoff are about.”
The Warriors are learning that. They learned it the hard way in Game 1. They learned it the happy way in Game 2. The temperature of this series just went up.
“Three and a half hours in the air,” Curry said, anticipating the flight to Oakland. “It’s a lot better to go home with a win.”