OAKLAND (AP) — Stephen Curry returned from a six-game absence with a right ankle injury only to strain his left knee after scoring 29 points, and the beat-up, undermanned Golden State Warriors held off the Atlanta Hawks 106-94 on Friday night
Curry grimaced as he hopped around and made it to the bench on a tender left side with 3:09 left in third after JaVale McGee fell over and the center’s right elbow appeared to pound into Curry’s left knee. The two-time MVP immediately sat in a chair and put his head down before going into the locker room.
Nick Young scored 24 points with six 3-pointers as the defending champions were already down their other All-Stars — Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Young, Patrick McCaw, Jordan Bell and Zaza Pachulia joined Curry in the starting lineup. Pachulia had nine rebounds, while Bell scored 12 points.
McCaw went down hard and headed to the locker room at the 10:24 mark of the first quarter. He returned to start the second, playing with a bruised lower back. Young went to the locker room late in the first half but was OK.
Curry overcame a slow start in his return, shooting 10 for 18. He had rolled the ankle at Atlanta on March 2 but initially kept playing before re-injuring it again.
When asked what he expected of Curry in his first game back, coach Steve Kerr quipped: “52 points. I have seen Steph come back from injury and nothing would surprise me.”
Curry began 1 for 6 and missed his first four 3s before connecting 62 seconds into the third. His 3 at 5:53 in the third pulled the Warriors within 60-56 then he converted a go-ahead four-point play with 3:03 left in the third. Soon after, his night was done.
Durant missed his fourth straight game with a broken rib while Thompson sat out a fifth in a row with a fractured right thumb. Green has a pelvic contusion.
The teams combined to miss their first 16 3-pointers — the Hawks 0 for 9 and Golden State 0 of 7 — before Atlanta’s Taurean Prince made the first shot from deep at the 9:21 mark of second quarter. Young hit the Warriors’ first 3 with 4:24 before halftime.
Quinn Cook contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists off the bench on his 25th birthday, helping the Warriors to a seventh straight win over the Hawks and 12th in 13.
Prince led Atlanta with 20 points. Dennis Schroder, who rested Thursday night in a loss at Sacramento, was back for Atlanta and scored 16 points. He briefly went to the locker room with 11:23 remaining in the game before returning for the Hawks, who HAD lost seven of eight.
He missed two key free throws with less than 5 minutes to play and his team down four.
Golden State began 9 for 35 and fell behind 33-20 before trailing 51-43 at halftime.
Hawks: The Hawks lost their sixth straight on Golden State’s home floor. They haven’t won at Oracle Arena since Feb. 25, 2011. ... G Kent Bazemore missed his sixth straight game with a bruised bone in his right knee.
Warriors: Omri Casspi missed a third consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. ... Golden State improved to 16-2 following a loss this season and 47-9 since 2014-15. The Warriors have only lost back-to-back games eight times during that span. ... Local students were recognized at halftime by the Bay Area All-Star Scholarship Team, a collaborative effort by the Bay Area professional sports teams to provide scholarships for youth striving to continue their educations.
MARCH FOR OUR LIVES
Kerr plans to participate in the Oakland “March For Our Lives” walk Saturday with his family to offer his support in the movement to end gun violence and mass shootings in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Kerr took part in a town hall at Newark Memorial High School and challenged students to vote and make their voices heard. He shared how his father Malcolm, president of the American University of Beirut, was murdered in Beirut when Kerr was 18 and a freshman at the University of Arizona.
Hawks: Visit Rockets on Sunday.
Warriors: Host Utah on Sunday.
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