Stephen Curry limped out of the locker room and walked down a long hallway with his sprained left ankle wrapped in black tape and the Golden State Warriors' season possibly in the balance.
If there was one thing proven in Game 3 of Golden State's second-round series against San Antonio, it was that when Curry's jumper isn't falling, the Warriors can look like a rather ordinary team.
Curry missed 12 of his 17 shots in his worst shooting performance of the postseason as the Warriors fell 102-92 to the Spurs on Friday night to fall behind 2-1 in the series.
"I have faith in Steph. I think he'll bounce back," teammate Klay Thompson said. "I don't know how he's feeling. Hopefully he's with us. He's our best player, he's our leader. But if he's not, we'll have to do it collectively and not let it bother us."
Even before Curry's ankle buckled in a recurrence of an injury sustained in Game 2 of the first round in Denver, there was something off about his game, starting with a rare airball on a 3-point attempt in the second quarter.
He missed two potential tying 3-pointers in the third quarter and a key one early in the fourth as the Warriors were unable to get over the hump all game.
After scoring 66 points the first two games to help Golden State get the split in San Antonio, Curry was held to 16 in Game 3 to the disappointment of the frenzied crowd at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors hope Curry is back healthy for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.
"He'll get treatment. We'll see how that responds. Hopefully he's ready to play," coach Mark Jackson said. "If not, we got guys more than capable of going out and getting us a win."
With Thompson's shot also off on a 7-for-20 night and the Warriors defense lacking, they had no chance to overcome Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and the rest of the top-seeded Spurs.
"They aren't going to shoot the ball the way they did every game," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said. "It's just not realistic. When they aren't shooting our defense needs to be even better for us to stay in games.
"They're great shooters. They're going to keep shooting the ball. It wasn't a matter of Steph and Klay missing shots. Offense wasn't too bad. Defense is where our problems were. We didn't have the same energy defensively."
Parker scored 25 of his 32 points in a sizzling first half, Duncan added 23 points and 10 rebounds, and the Spurs once again looked like a championship contender instead of the aging team that was thoroughly outplayed for most of the two games in San Antonio.
Kawhi Leonard finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Parker added five assists and five boards to help the Spurs wrestle back home-court advantage from the Warriors after withstanding a brief fourth-quarter rally.
San Antonio outshot Golden State 50.6 to 39.3 percent and curbed streaky shooters Curry and Thompson for the first time in the series.
"That's huge for us," Duncan said. "That's their catalyst. That's what they get off on. I thought we did a much better job of staying up on them, contesting their shots, getting them off that 3-point line and all in all just defending them very well. That's going to be a key to this entire series. We got a bit of a rude awakening the first two games seeing those guys shoot the ball the way they did. Hopefully we learned from that and hopefully we're better the rest of the series at that."
After falling behind by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors scored the first nine of the period in fewer than 2 minutes. They capped the run by slicing San Antonio's lead to 79-78 when Bogut blocked Duncan's layup, and Draymond Green made a pull-up jumper while drawing a foul on Duncan.
But Green missed the potential tying free throw and the Spurs built the lead back to seven on a 3-pointer by Parker, who left the game briefly after that after being kicked in the calf.
Most of Golden State's yellow-shirt wearing crowd of 19,596 silenced after Curry came off a curl and his left ankle — which he sprained in Game 2 in the first round against Denver but seemed to be back to full strength — landed awkwardly when he planted his feet to receive the ball. Curry limped around but stayed in the game, with nervous chants of "Curry! Curry!" breaking out.
The Warriors didn't get closer than five points after that.
"We talked about it, even after winning Game 2, this is going to be a heavyweight championship fight," Jackson said. "This is a different animal that we're going against. They have four future Hall of Famers. They're not going to lie down."
After trailing for 95 of 106 minutes in the first two games of the series, San Antonio had by far its best start behind its All-Star point guard. Parker had 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting in the first half, while Curry (9 points) and Thompson (3 points) combined for 12 points.
"We made shots and they didn't have as good a night shooting the ball," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Sometimes it's as simple as that."
NOTES: Duncan received a technical foul for shoving Bogut while running back on defense in the first quarter. The whistle came after Bogut had just dunked and dangled his legs around Duncan's shoulders trying to regain his balance. ... Warriors All-Star F David Lee had five points and two rebounds in three minutes in his second appearance since suffering what was originally deemed a season-ending injury to his right hip flexor.