Stephen Curry scored 37 points as the Golden State Warriors fought back to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 114-111 and take a 2-0 lead in their NBA Western Conference finals series on Thursday.
Curry sparked a 14-3 run for the Warriors as the NBA champions overturned a 108-100 deficit with just over four minutes remaining in a pulsating battle at the Oracle Arena.
Earlier, the Trail Blazers had surged into a 17-point early in the second half only for the Warriors to hit back with a sustained points onslaught.
The Warriors erupted for 39 points in the third quarter to haul themselves back into the contest but Portland, led by Damian Lillard, refused to roll over.
A Meyers Leonard three-pointer put Portland eight points clear late in the fourth but Curry then seized control.
Three nerveless free throws from Curry edged Golden State into a 110-108 lead, before a three-pointer for Portland from Curry’s younger brother Seth made it 111-110 for the visitors.
Kevon Looney’s alley-oop dunk shot put Golden State back in front at 112-111 with 52 seconds remaining before a Draymond Green layup with 12 seconds left effectively sealed the win.
“We knew they were going to come out swinging,” Curry said.
“They gave us a great punishing. That third quarter was unbelievable. It was a true testament of everyone on the team.”
It was another huge performance from Curry, who has stepped into the void created by Kevin Durant’s injury absence to deliver back-to-back 30-point games in the opening two games of the series.
Curry finished with 37 points from 11 of 22 shooting, adding eight rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers.
Klay Thompson added 24 points while Green finished with 16 points. Looney (14 points) and Jordan Bell (11) also cracked double digits.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted that his team, who are chasing a third straight NBA championship this season and a fourth in five seasons, had been fortunate to escape with the win.
“We stole that game,” a relieved Kerr said. “I thought they outplayed us for much of the night, the majority of the night. But we’ve been here before.
“I think our experience helped us. We’ve done this a few times before. But we stole it tonight for sure. They outplayed us.”
Kerr said the Warriors had been expecting a backlash from Portland following their win in game one on Tuesday.
“They’ve had two days to stew on the first game and make their adjustments. So we knew it was coming,” Kerr said. “We didn’t find our edge until the third quarter. But the NBA game is a long, long game.
“And with our team we always feel like we have a chance. And we kept playing tonight and we got it done.”
Lillard led the scoring for Portland with 23 points while C.J. McCollum added 22 points.
Portland coach Terry Stotts took satisfaction from an improved performance after a heavy loss in game one on Tuesday, but admitted his team had squandered a chance to level the series.
“It’s a lost opportunity, no question,” Stotts said. “We played a good game, we led for a good part of the game. We had a chance to win and we didn’t.
“You hate to lose a game but we showed that we can compete with them. It was a much better game than we played in game one. Now we’ve got to go and get two at home. We played better at both ends of the floor tonight and we’ve got to take that into game three.”
Meanwhile the Warriors confirmed earlier that injured star Durant was ruled out of game three and four in Portland as he struggles to recover from a calf strain.