Stephen Curry scored all 33 of his points in the second half as the Golden State Warriors shook off the absence of Kevin Durant to beat the Houston Rockets 118-113 and advance to the Western Conference finals.
The two-time defending champions punched their ticket to the NBA’s final four for the fifth consecutive season and eliminated the Rockets from the postseason for the second-straight year.
“We knew at some point we would have a chance to steal this game and we did,” Curry said.
The Warriors clinched the series in six games by reverting to their championship form pre-Durant, who was injured in game five.
Two-time reigning NBA finals MVP Durant suffered a calf strain in the third quarter of game five. Golden State is hoping to get him back before the end of the playoffs.
“We miss our guy but we know he is going to be back,” said Curry of Durant. “This whole playoff run he has been the best player in the league and has carried us so the least we could do is have his back tonight and move on to the next round.”
Durant’s status is uncertain for game one of the Western Conference finals On Tuesday in Oakland, California, against either the Portland Trail Blazers or the Denver Nuggets.
Curry, who went scoreless in the opening half, discovered his scoring touch after the break — especially in the fourth quarter where he poured in 23 points.
Scoreless on zero-for-five shooting in the first half, Curry sank a pair of clutch three-pointers down the stretch of the fourth. He was a perfect eight-for-eight from the foul line in the final 30 seconds.
“I just had to stay out of foul trouble,” Curry said. “The guys were telling me to be aggressive and that the floodgates would open at some point. In the fourth quarter it was amazing.
“I was telling myself that if I could get on the court and play consistent minutes, I could do something.”