2018-05-02 01:15:04
Stephen Curry’s Comeback Has Warriors Leading Pelicans at Halftime

01:15, May 02 127 0

Stephen Curry waited all of 11 seconds before he launched his first 3-pointer of the playoffs. It found its way home.

A few minutes later, with the defense playing fairly far away from him, he launched from 32 feet, and again connected.

After an inconsistent regular season, the Golden State Warriors started 5-1 in these N.B.A. playoffs, erasing any doubts about their worthiness as a legitimate title contender. Now, as they appear to be hitting their stride, the defending champions were bolstered by the return of Curry, the most dangerous shooter in N.B.A. history, who came off the bench for his first action following a 38-day absence.

Curry, a two-time winner of the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, had been out since March 23 with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, but Golden State announced before Game 2 of their semifinal series against the New Orleans Pelicans that he would be active.

Curry checked in with 4 minutes 20 seconds left in the first quarter, and the Warriors trailing by 18-11. But by the end of the first half, thanks to Curry’s sharpshooting and a last-second 3-pointer by Klay Thompson, Golden State had a 58-55 lead.

In the half, Curry shot 5 for 10 from the field for a team-leading 12 points. The Warriors outscored the Pelicans by 15 points in Curry’s 12 minutes on the floor.

Coach Steve Kerr had listed Curry as probable on Monday.

“He’s feeling good. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t play,” Kerr told reporters.

Kerr said there was no consideration of delaying Curry’s return or limiting his minutes once he was medically cleared to return.

“The only factor in terms of allowing him to play is his health,” Kerr said. “And he’s ready to go. So now it’s a question of rhythm and how much time we give him. He needs to get his rhythm back.”

Curry, who turned 30 in March, averaged 26.4 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds a game this season, while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3-point range. His career mark of 43.6 percent from 3-point range is the best in N.B.A. history among players with 2,000 or more career attempts.

While the timing of the injury was slightly different, the situation certainly recalls the 2016 playoffs when Curry, slowed by an M.C.L. sprain in his right knee sustained in the Warriors’ first-round series against the Houston Rockets, proceeded to miss Golden State’s next four games. He had flashes of brilliance in the subsequent 16 games that playoff season, but there were some who blamed his not being 100 percent for the 73-win Warriors going on to blow a 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the N.B.A. Finals.