Steph Curry’s big 3rd quarter got the Warriors back on track in Houston

Midway through the third quarter, Stephen Curry flexed his muscles and let out a massive roar into the Toyota Center rafters that released nearly a week of frustration.

Curry scored 23 of his 30 points in the third quarter to lead the Warriors’ decisive run in Saturday night’s 113-87 win over the Houston Rockets. The win gives his team momentum for the season’s final push.

After Andrew Wiggins’ layup erased an 11-point deficit midway through the third quarter, Curry snapped out of a shooting slump that saw him miss 19 of 27 3-point attempts over his last two games with a corner 3-pointer. As the ball dropped through the net, Curry kick-started Golden State’s 24-0 run with a full-throated yell.

“Took off from there,” Curry said.

The relief was palpable. After all, it had been a rough few nights for Curry and the Warriors. Curry — whose April will go down as one of the great scoring months in league history — was coming off a 40% shooting performance in Thursday’s disappointing loss in Minnesota and a blowout loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday.

Early on, it looked as if Golden State was on track for a third straight letdown as Curry shot just 2 for 12 to start the game and the Warriors trailed by six at halftime. In the locker room, players discussed the “cloud” hanging over the team coming off two tough losses. When Curry made that corner 3-pointer, he knew it was an opportunity to wash away the rain.

“Sometimes you have to force it a little bit,” Curry said. “There’s no reason I should celebrate a three like that other than just trying to get some juice going.”

A loss would have been unacceptable. Not only would it have come against the Rockets (16-48), owners of the league’s worst record, but it also would have dropped Golden State two games below .500 in the midst of a playoff push.

But Curry with his timely flurry lifted his team the way he has on so many occasions this season. Curry poured in shots from all over the floor, going 7 for 11 overall, including 5 for 7 from 3-point range, and 4 for 5 from the free-throw line. His 12-straight points crested Golden State’s longest run of the season and a 39-12 third quarter.

“One of the most remarkable things about Steph is that he can be in the midst of what looks like his worst game of the entire season, and then just explode,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “Most human beings wouldn’t be able to dig themselves out of a hole like Steph.”

Having earned a well-deserved break in a blowout win on the road, Curry spent the fourth quarter on the bench chair-dancing with Draymond Green.

Wiggins finished with 20 points, Green tallied nine points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and reserves Jordan Poole and Mychal Mulder chipped in 17 points apiece while the defense held Houston to 36.4% shooting overall.

“I think we needed that win real bad,” Mulder said. “Late in the year, it’s important to stack good games on top of each other.”

The win puts the Warriors (32-32) in position to climb out of the nine-10 matchup of the play-in tournament:

8. Memphis (32-31)9. Golden State (32-32)10. San Antonio (31-31)11. New Orleans (29-35)

With eight games left, they own the tie-breaker over the Spurs and trail the Grizzlies (who lost to the Magic Saturday) by a half-game for the No. 8 seed.

However, these two games in New Orleans Monday and Tuesday are also treacherous, as the Pelicans are three games back and can catch the Warriors by winning on their home floor.

“With this momentum, with this energy, everybody’s feeling good,” said Juan Toscano-Anderson, who finished with six points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals and five blocks. “It’s great vibes going into New Orleans and those are must-wins.”

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Author: Wes Goldberg