LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Stephen Curry scored 32 points as the Golden State Warriors survived a scare to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies, 101-98, and move to the brink of the Western Conference playoff finals on Monday.
Curry poured in 18 points in the final quarter as an out-of-sorts Warriors reeled in the Grizzlies with less than a minute remaining to close out victory and take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Memphis, whICH suffered a 142-112 mauling in Game 3 on Saturday, had looked poised to punish one of the worst Golden State offensive displays in years to seize victory at San Francisco’s Chase Center.
But after leading from the opening quarter until the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies, without the injured Ja Morant, were unable to hold on.
– Horford sinks Bucks –
In Milwaukee, Al Horford scored 30 points as the Boston Celtics produced a devastating late scoring burst to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-108 and knot their best-of-seven series at 2-2.
The defending champion Bucks looked to be heading towards a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final series after stretching into an 11-point lead late in the third quarter, with Giannis Antetokounmpo in commanding form.
But a devastating fourth-quarter shooting display from the Celtics — with Horford scoring 16 points as Boston outscored Milwaukee 43-28 — transformed the contest as the Celtics head home to Boston for game five on Wednesday.
And as Memphis tightened down the stretch, it was Curry who kept his cool to reel off a string of free throws that allowed Golden State to edge home.
Curry gave the Warriors their first lead of the night from the free throw line at 94-93 with 45.7 seconds remaining.
The eight-time All-Star then bagged six more free throws to help put the hosts five points clear at 100-95 with 9.7 seconds on the clock to effectively ice the game.
Andrew Wiggins finished with 17 points while Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole both had 14 points apiece.
Curry’s points haul included a three-pointer that made him the first player to score 500 threes in the NBA playoffs.
But for long periods that statistical milestone looked like being of scant consolation for Golden State, who shot just 36 of 90 from the field all night.
Curry was at a loss to explain Golden State’s lacklustre offensive display, which came so soon after Saturday’s free-scoring game-three blitz.