Warriors snatch thrilling Game 1 win from Spurs
BASKETBALL: San Antonio was running away with Game One of the Western Conference Finals before an injury to Kawhi Leonard changed everything.
The Spurs were completing a dream opening to their heavyweight matchup against the favoured Golden State Warriors, leading 78-55 early in the third quarter.
Leonard had been exceptional after missing the final game of the Spurs' semi-final series against Houston, pouring in 26 points and grabbing eight rebounds as San Antonio looked to steal home court.
But the Spurs' MVP candidate appeared to reinjure the same ankle that kept him out against the Rockets and the momentum of the game turned in dramatic fashion.
After Leonard left for the locker room, Golden State went on a 19-2 run which saw the home team pull within six points.
San Antonio steadied the ship somewhat and a buzzer-beating putback by Kyle Anderson saw Gregg Popovich's side lead 90-81 with a quarter to go.
LaMarcus Aldridge, the hero of San Antonio's Game Six win against the Rockets, had another fine game, scoring 28 points and grabbing eight boards. His driving lay-up gave the Spurs a 94-85 lead with 9:03 left on the clock.
But the return of Durant - who was rested early in the fourth - coincided with another Warriors run.
The man who was signed in the offseason to help lead the Warriors to another title scored 12 points in just over three minutes of game time as Golden State took a 101-100 lead.
Strong play by Aldridge allowed the Spurs to regain the lead 104-103 with 2:12 remaining. Two free throws to Jonathon Simmons made it 106-103 before a Curry three followed by a Draymond Green three-point play put Golden State back in front 109-106.
A Curry lay-up appeared to end the contest with 38 seconds remaining but a Manu Ginobili dunk followed by a Patty Mills steal gave San Antonio one more shot.
Mills made two free throws to get it back to 111-110 but Curry stepped up when it counted, getting a friendly roll on a mid-range jumper to hit the 40-point mark and go up 113-110.
After Aldridge missed the game-tying three, Mills was fouled after chasing down the rebound. He hit one free throw before intentionally missing the second but the Spurs couldn't secure the ball and the clock expired on a 113-111 defeat.
Having missed a great opportunity to get a win on the Warriors' home floor, the Spurs will now sweat on Leonard's availability for the rest of the series. Popovich didn't have any information immediately after the game.