Steinmetz: Mullin's memorable 41 vs. L.A.

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Steinmetz: Mullin's memorable 41 vs. L.A.

Aug. 12, 2011

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Matt Steinmetz
CSNBayArea.com

When Chris Mullin scored 41 points -- on 16-for-21 shooting -- to lead the Warriors to a 125-124 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals in 1991, long-time and legendary announcer Chick Hearn called it the greatest exhibition of shooting he'd ever seen.As is usually the case with Mullin, there's a story behind that game.
Lost in Mullin's incredible shooting performance was the fact that he almost didn't play in the game at all. Mullin had injured his right knee in the previous series -- against San Antonio -- and had missed Game 1 against the Lakers.RELATED: Chris Mullin elected to Basketball Hall of Fame
He was expected to miss Game 2. But Mullin had other plans. So the night before the game, Mullin, athletic development coach Mark Grabow and athletic trainer Tom Abdenour headed out to test Mullin's knee. The threesome didn't quite sneak into the gym that night, but the probably would have if they needed to."We drove to the (Great Western) Forum, and there was a security guard sitting at the gate," said Grabow. "He recognized Chris so he let us in. The Forum had just one little light that was on above the court, but it was still pretty dark. So there he was, working out, getting shots up in a dark, empty Forum, with nobody around."RELATED: Mark Jackson says Chris Mullin was a 'bad man'
Said Abdenour: "I want to say the only lights that were on were the emergency lights and maybe a light or two on the shot clock. He started firing of 'Js,' planting on the knee, cutting. And the next night was simply amazing."Mullin proceeded to get shots up for about 45 minutes, worked up a good sweat and then announced to Grabow and Abdenour he was ready. Mullin wore a knee brace during the game and told teammate Mitch Richmond before the game that it felt uncomfortable.RELATED: Why Mullin was the ultimate gym rat
That might have been the case with Mullin's right knee. But his left arm was completely healthy.

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

While head coach Steve Kerr was unable to make Saturday's Game 3 due to an illness, the Warriors went out and took a 3-0 series lead over the Blazers. 

After the game, Steph Curry dedicated the win to Kerr by keeping the game ball for him. 

"Our coach is going through a lot right now physically and he told us this morning this is a situation where we need to rally and go out and win a game for him, but we felt like that," Curry said after the Warriors' 119-113 win. "The way that game had gone on we had to fight and do it for him. 

"The way that he said it was we had to win one for The Gipper, so shout out to coach Kerr." 

Curry led the Warriors with 34 points in Saturday's win. 

Instant Replay: Warriors battle Blazers, take commanding 3-0 series lead

Instant Replay: Warriors battle Blazers, take commanding 3-0 series lead

BOX SCORE

PORTLAND -- Head coach Steve Kerr didn’t show and All-Star forward Kevin Durant didn’t play.

Neither did Shaun Livingston or Matt Barnes.

No matter. Trailing by as much as 17 before a surging Trail Blazers team and a thunderous sellout crowd at Moda Center, the Warriors found their way to a 119-113 victory in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Saturday night.

The Warriors can close out the series with a win in Game 4 here on Monday night.

With assistant coach Mike Brown serving as acting head coach in the absence of an ill Kerr, five Warriors scored in double figures, led by Stephen Curry’s 34 points. Klay Thompson put in 24, Andre Iguodala 16, JaVale McGee 14 and Pat McCaw 11.

The Warriors overcame a 16-point third-quarter deficit and a 52-42 rebounding disadvantage with a single, searing stretch of defense in the third quarter, when they limited Portland to 30.4-percent shooting.

Guards CJ McCollum, who totaled 32 points, and Damian Lillard, who posted 31, led the Trail Blazers.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

As crucial to the comeback as was the offensive reemergence of Curry and Thompson, nobody did more good things over different portions of the game than did McGee.

McGee’s line: 14 points (6-of-8 shooting from the field, 2-of-2 from the line), four rebounds and one steal. He played 16 minutes and finished a game-high plus-24.

TURNING POINT

Trailing 82-66 after a Lillard finger roll with 6:20 left in the third quarter, the Warriors rumbled back with a 19-1 run, taking an 85-83 lead when McGee slammed through a lob with 2:01 left in the quarter.

The Warriors during that stretch held Portland to 0-of-8 shooting, with three turnovers.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: F Matt Barnes (R foot/ankle bone bruise), F Kevin Durant (L calf strain) and G Shaun Livingston (R index finger sprain and hand contusion) were listed as questionable and downgraded to out. F Kevon Looney (L hip strain) is listed as out.

Blazers: G Allen Crabbe (L foot soreness) and G CJ McCollum (R ankle sprain) were listed as probable and upgraded to available. C Jusuf Nurkic (L leg fracture) was listed as doubtful and upgraded to available. C Ed Davis (L shoulder surgery) and C Festus Ezeli (L knee surgery) were listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The teams reconvene Monday night at Moda Center for Game 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.