PORTLAND — For most of Monday in the basketball world, it was as if time stood still.
No, not the terrible fouling display in the second quarter.
The basketball world awaited the return of its current deity, which they got, but fans were given much more than that.
Golden State guard Stephen Curry finally made his return and injected new life into a blood feud between the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors that came to a boil Monday night.
In a classic that went down to the wire, Curry added to his legendary season with 40 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to lead the Warriors a 132-125 overtime win.
Curry scored 17 of the 21 Warriors points in the overtime period, a feat that only Curry can claim in NBA history (postseason or regular season) adding to his legend and sending the Blazers one step closer to the summer.
After the overtime takeover, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was left in awe and when asked if it reminded him of anyone, he gave the answer only he could be qualified to give
“The obvious answer would be Michael Jordan,” Kerr said, comparing his star player to his former teammate. “Steph does it so differently from Michael, I guess the similarity is just the awe-inspring plays, the jaw-dropping plays that bring the house down, even on the road.”
Damian Lillard had 36 points and 10 assists in a stellar effort that ended with the champions getting their historic season back on schedule.
The Warriors have a commanding 3-1 series lead with Game 5 coming in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday.
In the past few days, the Blazers hadn’t been shy in firing shots at Draymond Green in the media while Green similarly took shots, saying the Blazers had “doubt” in their Game 3 win.
What came next followed the script of a classic game and perhaps, if the Blazers have a choice in the matter, the script of a rivalry.
A Green technical in the first quarter? Check. An extra celebration when CJ McCollum hit a floater on Green? Check. The MVP making his dramatic return midway through the first quarter to gasps? Check. An ejection? Check. The best game of the series and the first overtime game? Check.
The Warriors and Blazers traded haymakers in the final period, making everyone forget that it went on for over three hours.
“That’s playoff basketball right there,” Green said. “That’s what it’s about. I think that’s really the first game that we were at the intensity level that we needed to be at and they were at the intensity they needed to be at. I think tonight lived up to what it’s supposed to be about.”
Green is not ready to talk about the respect he’s developed for the Blazers, for the series is not over. But the intensity in the series does beg the question, how has this been for the young Blazers to fight against the champs?
“It’s been crazy, just because we realize the opportunity that we have, playing against the best team in the league,” Lillard said of the intensity in the series after an epic Game 4. “Not much being expected of us, we wanted to go out there and make a statement. We want to go out there and make sure they respect us and make sure that they understand that it’s not going to be what everybody think it’s going to be. There’s not going to be no rolling over.”
It was a great game and both teams certainly played hard, Terry Stotts even gave a shout-out to Rasheed Wallace, but Green left no doubt as to what this was for the Blazers.
“That’s a gut-punch they caught tonight,” Green said.
The Blazers started the night red-hot, jumping out to a 16-2 run with Curry starting the game on the bench.
Referee Scott Foster ejected Shaun Livingston, who has started the last form games of the series with 1:36 left in the first half, complicating the plan the Warriors had for the MVP.
Even early on, it looked like Curry’s offense was needed. The Warriors didn’t make a basket until the 9:48 mark of the first quarter and found themselves down by as many as 16 points.
Lillard scored 10 points in the first quarter, which included a 4-point play on his first shot attempt.
Curry eventually made his return to the floor to help his team comeback from double-digits.
It wasn’t a traditional Curry game and he showed flashes of his MVP game, but in the overtime Curry was turned all the way up.
Curry started the second half but didn’t make his first 3-pointer until the fourth quarter, but he did cash a long-two pointer to put the Warriors up by five with 9:01 left.
Portland led by 10 at halftime, but the Warriors, as they usually do, made an excellent run.
With the 3:45 left in the third quarter, a Thompson 3-pointer gave the Warriors their first lead.
The Warriors had a one-point lead after three.
If a Blazer scored on Green, they were going to enjoy it a little bit more.
Rest assured though, that Green was loving it too.
With 4:22 left in the first half he knifed through the lane in transition to throw down an emphatic dunk, much to the dismay of the arena.
The Blazers missed opportunities to win the game late and dodged a missed jumper from Curry at the end of regulation.
Golden State’s defense was amazing toward the end, they had the MVP and all was right in their world once again.