Warriors tighten grip on six seed with win over Spurs
Stephen Curry's seven 3-pointers Monday night has him one away from tying Ray Allen's single-season record of 269. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- On the schedule it looked like a potential preview of a first-round playoff series for Golden State, but Monday's regular-season home finale against San Antonio turned out to be anything but.
Playing against a lineup which consisted mainly of Spurs backups, the Warriors pulled away late to win 116-106. Minutes before the win went final, Phoenix beat Houston 119-112 to vault Golden State back into the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Warriors trailed 57-54 at halftime, but took control thanks to another big shooting performance from Stephen Curry. He scored 35 points and knocked down seven three-pointers to come within one of Ray Allen's single-season three-point record (269).
"I don't know who second place is for best shooter in the world, but he certainly has first place tied up," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. Six of Curry's threes came in the second half as he almost single-handedly brought the sold-out crowd at Oracle Arena into a frenzy, but Jackson elected to remove Curry at the 3:56 mark of the fourth with the Warriors up 109-91.
"The game was pretty much over," Jackson said. "I didn't want to chase (the record), but then he started making shots and I liked the idea of being within reach come Wednesday."
He'll need two threes at Portland to break Allen's mark, which was set in the 2005-06 season for Seattle. Curry has been held to less than two three-pointers in just 12 of 77 games this year and has finished without a three on just four occasions.
Bottom line: the record should come without any extra effort.
"You just hope it happens," Curry said. "I've said it the whole time, I know about it, you just try to play your game and, obviously, shooting the ball is a part of it. You're not going to force it, but it'd be nice to do it."
If Jackson had left Curry in to chase the record, he would have opened himself up to some criticism after the Warriors intentionally fouled against Houston on Feb. 5 to prevent the Rockets from obtaining the single-game three-point record for a team.
“I was an old-school basketball player. I’m an old-school coach," Jackson said following the 140-109 loss. "If you can’t appreciate that, that’s on you. If you’re going to try to get the record, we’re going to stop you. … I would expect nothing less if I was on the other side.”
Jackson opted to not to find out of the Spurs were willing to follow suit.
With nothing to play for, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted he enjoyed watching Curry go off.
"I think everybody hates losing, but I enjoyed the hell out of watching a talented kid perform the way he did, and he does it with class," Popovich said. "So it's off to the playoffs for both teams."
Warriors fans stood and chanted "Curry, Curry, Curry," during the final two offensive possessions while he was still in the game. The gesture wasn't lost on the soft-spoken Curry, who is excited to see what the crowd is like in the postseason.
"We experience their energy every single night and understand how much of a home-court advantage they give us and home much energy they give us," he said. "When it comes down to those do-or-die games, it's going to be insane."
If Golden State wins Wednesday at Portland and Denver wins at home against Phoenix, the Warriors would play Denver in the first round. If Denver loses and the Clippers win their final two games (vs Portland, at Sacramento), Golden State would play Los Angeles.
If the Warriors lose to Portland and Houston wins at the Lakers on Wednesday, they would drop back to the No. 7 spot.
Klay Thompson scored 23 points for Golden State, while David Lee added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Rookie Festus Ezeli grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, starting in place of the injured Andrew Bogut (sprained left ankle).
Jarrett Jack tied his career high with 12 assists. Popovich elected to sit Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, while Manu Ginobili remained out with an injury.
With the star players out, Gary Neal (25 points) and Patty Mills (23) were the high scorers for San Antonio.
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Next up -- at Portland (33-47), 7:30 p.m., Wednesday
The Warriors wrap up the regular season Wednesday at Portland, where the Trail Blazers will be playing the second half of a back-to-back. They will try to end their 11-game losing streak at the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday before flying back to Portland to end the season.
Golden State has taken a pair of games from Portland at Oracle Arena this year and has yet to play at the Rose Garden. Stephen Curry had 39 points in Golden State's 125-98 win on March 30. A win would complete the Warriors' second sweep of the Blazers in franchise history and the first since the 2005-06 season.
Jackson Addresses Boston Tragedy
Warriors coach Mark Jackson opened his pregame press conference by addressing the tragedy that occurred earlier in the day at the Boston Marathon.
“First and foremost I want to send thoughts and prayers to the people of Boston during this tragedy," he said. "Certainly praying for those folks.”
Warriors Establish Second Highest Attendance Total
By drawing 794,320 fans this year to Oracle Arena, the Warriors established the second highest total for a season in franchise history. They fell 10,544 shy of the single-season record (804,865), which was established in the 2007-08 season -- the year after the team last qualified for the postseason.
The team sold out the final 32 games of the season and 34 in all. They finish the season ranked No. 5 in the NBA in average attendance.