Warriors 116, Spurs 106
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)
With every swish, the chants grew louder.
''Curry! Curry! Curry!'' fans shouted. Stephen Curry knew exactly where he stood, and so did everybody else in the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena.
The only thing that could delay him from making history was his coach.
Curry made seven 3-pointers to move within one of Ray Allen's single-season record, scoring 35 points to lead the Golden State Warriors past the severely short-handed San Antonio Spurs 116-106 on Monday night.
''I don't know who second place is for the best shooter in the world,'' said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who pulled Curry once the game turned into a rout. ''But he certainly has first place tied up.''
Curry hit 7 of 13 shots from beyond the arc to close within one of Allen's mark of 269 3-pointers set in 2005-06 with Seattle. He added eight rebounds and five assists, sparking a 19-0 run late with his deep sharpshooting to help the Warriors pull away and move a game ahead of Houston for the Western Conference's sixth seed.
The rejuvenated Warriors point guard, with his twice surgically repaired right ankle no longer an issue, will have a chance to set a new NBA standard in the regular-season finale Wednesday night at Portland.
Curry said he never knew what Allen's record was until he started approaching the number in recent weeks. Curry is shooting a remarkable 45.7 percent from long range and averaging 3.48 3s made over his 77 games played this season.
''If you actually do the math on it, it's pretty crazy of a number,'' Curry said. ''It's nice to be close. It means you're healthy and playing in pretty much every game and shooting the ball pretty well.''
Once Curry got going, San Antonio's second-stringers never had a chance.
Gary Neal had 25 points and five assists and Patty Mills scored 23 for the Spurs, who rested their key starters a night after losing 91-86 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers. After the Spurs tied the game at 84 early in the fourth quarter, Curry connected on three 3-pointers during a run that gave Golden State a 107-87 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining to bring a 32nd straight sellout crowd to full throat.
''It's actually fun to watch,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ''Everybody hates losing, but I enjoyed ... watching a talented kid perform the way he did, and he does it with class.''
Jackson took his starting point guard out with 3:51 remaining following a final miss, saying he doesn't want to chase record but likes that Curry has a shot at history in the finale. Fans gave Curry a standing ovation, and they belted out another roar moments later when the video board showed the Rockets lost 119-112 at Phoenix.
Houston, which would hold the tiebreaker over the Warriors after winning the season series 3-1, will visit the Lakers in its finale Wednesday. No matter who the Warriors play, they know Curry's streaky shooting will always give them a chance.
''He's in an unbelievable groove right now, and we just want to keep him that way for the playoffs,'' said Warriors forward David Lee, who added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
With Oklahoma City clinching the West's top seed with a win over Sacramento earlier Monday, the Spurs decided to focus on preparing for the playoffs.
San Antonio rested point guard Tony Parker (sore neck, left ankle), power forward Tim Duncan (sore left knee) and small forward Kawhi Leonard (sore left knee) sat out because of nagging injuries. All three had played at the Lakers on Sunday night.
The Spurs also were without reserve guard Manu Ginobili, who has been out since straining his right hamstring March 29. Backup forward Boris Diaw also is likely out until at least the second round of the playoffs following back surgery.
Whether Ginobili returns for the regular-season finale Wednesday against Minnesota is unclear. But Popovich said Parker, Duncan and Leonard would likely play in the Timberwolves game.
The Spurs will be seeded second and likely face Golden State or Houston in the first round.
Golden State was without center Andrew Bogut (bruised left ankle) and backup Andris Biedrins (lower back tightness). Bogut has missed two straight games since reinjuring his surgically repaired ankle and his status for the playoffs is murky.
While adjusting to the odd lineups, neither side created much separation for more than three quarters.
There were 20 lead changes and six ties in the first half. The Spurs held a 57-54 lead at the break.
Curry hit a pair of 3-pointers and a short jumper before Festus Ezeli's dunk put the Warriors up 68-61 early in the third quarter, the largest lead for either side to that point. The Spurs still closed the gap several times, tying the score early in the fourth before Curry - an All-Star snub - ignited Golden State for good.
''I wish we could rewind to those All-Star votes,'' Jackson said. ''Some of those people should raise their hand and apologize to the guy.''
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for victims of the explosions during the Boston Marathon. ... The Warriors had the second-highest total attendance in franchise history with 794,320 fans, second only to the 2007-08 season when the team drew 804,864 after making the playoffs the previous year.