The Golden State Warriors arrived at their San Francisco arena in desperation mode on Sunday, well aware that a second straight stumble would rate as a huge blow to their championship chances.
It took a half for the Warriors to find their stride, but then they delivered a third-quarter knockout punch en route to evening the NBA Finals at one game apiece with a convincing 107-88 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Stephen Curry scored 29 points and made five 3-pointers in three quarters of action while leading the way as Golden State avenged a 120-108 home loss in Game 1.
“Offensively, we were a little bit more organized with what we were trying to do from the jump,” Curry said. “We said we needed to play with desperation and that’s what we did. It’s a good feeling to get back on track and now we have to take it on the road.”
Curry is averaging 31.5 points in the series and has made 12 of 26 3-point shots.
“There is always a need for me to be aggressive and create and try to score,” Curry said. “These first two games have gone well. I’m not sure how it will look on the road. The series is always about being confident with the ball in my hands and make plays.”
Jordan Poole added 17 points and Kevon Looney tallied 12 for the Warriors, who had a 35-14 edge in the third quarter. Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins had 11 apiece for Golden State, which travels to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday.
Jayson Tatum made six 3-pointers while scoring 28 points for the Celtics, who were outscored 55-38 in the second half.
Jaylen Brown added 17 points for Boston but was just 5-of-17 shooting. Derrick White scored 12 points off the Celtics’ bench.
Though the Celtics gained a split in the Bay Area, Brown wasn’t the least bit happy.
“No satisfaction. No satisfaction in winning one,” Brown said. “We move on to the next one.”
Golden State shot 45.3 percent from the field, while Boston made 37.5 percent of its shots. Both teams were 15 of 37 from behind the arc. Poole also knocked down five treys.
Celtics Game 1 hero Al Horford (26 points) had just two points on 1-of-4 shooting in this one.
Boston committed 19 turnovers while Golden State racked up 15 steals. Curry, Looney and Otto Porter Jr. had three apiece.
“We didn’t give ourselves much of a chance with those turnovers,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said ramping up the pressure on Boston was part of the game plan.
“Turnovers are often a byproduct of physicality and intensity,” Kerr said. “I thought we brought that from the start. We did a good job of trying to make things difficult for them.”
Curry scored 14 points in the decisive third quarter to help the Warriors turn a 52-50 halftime lead into a 23-point cushion. He scored eight points during a 16-4 burst that saw Golden State open up a 68-56 lead with 6:47 left in the third quarter.
Grant Williams and Tatum hit consecutive 3-pointers to cut Boston’s deficit in half, but the Warriors responded with 11 straight points. Porter started the surge with a trey and Curry drained two straight from behind the arc to make it 79-62 with 2:13 remaining in the quarter.
Poole ended the quarter with two 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds. He launched the second from just inside the half-court line over Celtics guard Payton Pritchard and it swished through just as time expired to give Golden State an 87-64 lead entering the final stanza.
“My teammates look for me at the end of quarters and I knew I had him on his heels,” Poole said. “I have endless range, I guess.”
Boston made just 4 of 17 field-goal attempts in the fateful third quarter.
“We were a little stagnant in the third quarter,” said Tatum, “and I felt like that translated to the defensive end and they got going and hit shots.”
The Warriors scored the first six points in the fourth quarter to increase the margin to 29 and cruised to the finish.
Curry scored 15 first-half points as the Warriors led by two at the break. Tatum made five 3-pointers while scoring 21 in the half for Boston. Brown added 15 first-half points, but 13 came in the opening quarter.
–Field Level Media