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OAKLAND, Calif. – The San Antonio Spurs are heading home against the Golden State Warriors with the Western Conference semifinal tied at two games apiece.
Solid position considering how sloppy the Spurs played in the first two games.
Maybe a bit unsettling after allowing Game 4 to slip away.
San Antonio blew an eight-point lead in the final five minutes of regulation, missed its first nine shots of overtime and watched a hobbled Stephen Curry rally the Warriors to a 97-87 win Sunday.
"We put ourselves in a position to win the game and it's frustrating because we feel like we gave it away," said Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who had 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Even for all of the theater Curry provided, the Spurs seized control of a sloppy slugfest from the start until going cold shooting when it mattered most.
Tony Parker, wearing a black sleeve around his bruised left calf, poured in 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting but never broke free the way he did in scoring 32 points the previous contest, saying the injury limited his ability to elevate. Manu Ginobili added 21 points and Kawhi Leonard had 11 as the Spurs ran out of steam.
Golden State outshot San Antonio 38 to 35.5 to percent in what was an ugly offensive game most of the afternoon. The Warriors also outrebounded the Spurs 65 to 51.
Game 5 is Tuesday in San Antonio.
"I think we were just tired," Parker said.
Curry scored 22 points to go with six rebounds and four assists on a bum ankle and got a big boost from his teammates. Harrison Barnes had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Jarrett Jack added 24 points in reserve and Andrew Bogut grabbed 18 rebounds to as the Warriors scored the first nine points of overtime to give this topsy-turvy series yet another twist.
Even Warriors coach Mark Jackson doubted whether Curry could play, especially after his star point guard took an anti-inflammatory injection in the morning to ease the soreness in his sprained ankle and still had trouble getting loose. Jackson cornered Curry outside the chapel service at the arena to see how he felt.
"He said, 'I'm going to give you what I got, coach,' That's not the language he speaks. I knew right away that he was not 100 percent," said Jackson, who conferred with general manager Bob Myers in his office before letting Curry play. "Once again, it's that same spirit flowing through that locker room that refuses to quit."
Ginobili hit a mid-range jumper and a 3-pointer, and Leonard put back a rebound for an easy layup to out the Spurs ahead 80-72 with 4:49 remaining in the fourth quarter. With the series slipping away from the Warriors, their home sellout crowd sat down and fell silent for one of the few times in the fourth quarter all postseason.
Then Jack hit three jumpers and Klay Thompson added another to pull the Warriors even with less than a minute to play in regulation. After Parker provided a jumper to put the Spurs ahead 84-82, Thompson dribbled to his right and banked in the tying shot over Leonard with 30 seconds left.
Both teams missed shots to win in regulation, and the Warriors turned the extra session into a runaway.
Curry capped the overtime spurt with a floating layup, drawing a foul on Duncan to begin a three-point play that gave Golden State a 93-84 lead. San Antonio missed its first nine shots — and two free throws by Danny Green — to start overtime until Green's corner 3 with 1:29 remaining.
By then, it was too late — Curry had taken control again.
"He's a player that you may see him playing one leg, one arm, and you got to guard him," Ginobili said. "So you got to respect him. He can really go off at any time."
The tight turnaround from Friday night's game to the early afternoon start Sunday surely didn't help Curry's cause.
Curry clearly favored his left ankle and never showed any burst off the dribble, often getting face-guarded by Spurs defenders and taken out of the offense. Some of his teammates even wondered whether he'd respond.
"Watching him warm up, I said, 'Man, there's no way this kid is playing," Jack said. "Then watching him run around on one leg, he looked like Isiah Thomas against the Lakers in the finals, man. The performance he put on down the stretch, making plays, making shots, defensively, I sat back and was honestly in awe."
With Curry quieted on the perimeter early and Bogut on the bench in foul trouble most of the first half, the Warriors missed 13 straight shots and went scoreless for 7:10. The Spurs scored 14 unanswered points during that spurt, Ginobili made his first four 3s and the Spurs later took a 41-30 lead midway through the second quarter on Green's put-back dunk.
The Warriors had been 0-3 when trailing after three quarters this postseason until Curry and company came back.
"It seems like every time you get on a roll and feel somewhat healthy there's a setback," said Curry, who shot 7 of 15 from the floor, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range. "And it just tests you. It changes your routine. It changes your outlook on the game, your preparation. You've got to deal with the injury and the adjustments your making as a team."
NOTES: The Warriors had never hosted an overtime playoff game in the Bay Area. ... It was the most points Ginobili had scored since he had 21 against New Orleans on Jan. 7. ... Game 6 is Thursday in Oakland and Game 7, if necessary, would be in San Antonio on Sunday.