BOSTON (AP)He stomped his feet, waved his arms, flexed his muscles and talked back to the crowd.
And Stephen Curry also made baskets. Plenty of those, too.
In a demonstrative and dominating performance that was one of the best of his postseason career, Curry scored 43 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 107-97 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, sending the series back to San Francisco knotted at two games apiece.
Two nights after shaking off a foot injury in a Game 3 loss, the two-time league MVP stomped and shot his way to his third-highest scoring total in the postseason, adding 10 rebounds and making a pair of baskets during a 10-0 fourth-quarter run that turned a four-point Boston edge into a 100-94 Golden State lead. It was the second-most points he’s scored in the NBA Finals.
”The heart on that man is incredible,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. ”The things he does, we kind of take for granted at times, to go out there and put us on his back. We’ve got to help him out on Monday.”
Andrew Wiggins had 17 points and 16 boards for the Warriors, who have won at least one road game for an NBA-record 27 consecutive playoff series since 2013. They will host Game 5 on Monday night, with Game 6 in Boston on Thursday; Golden State would hold the home-court advantage in a seventh game, if necessary.
”We had to do it the difficult way,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka, whose team is 7-0 after losses in the 2022 postseason. ”We have to do it again. It could have been an easier road, obviously, if you get the win tonight. But we’re 2-2 now. We know we can do it. We’ve done it before.”
Jayson Tatum had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Boston, but he managed just one basket while playing the entire fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown scored 21 points and Robert Williams III had 12 rebounds.
Marcus Smart, who scored 18 points, hit a 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 94-90 lead with just over five minutes remaining. But they missed six straight shots and did not score again until the 1:18 mark, after Curry made a floater and a 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 100-94 lead.
”He wasn’t letting us lose. That’s all it boils down to,” Warriors big man Draymond Green said. ”I could tell in his demeanor, last couple of days, even after Game 3 that he was going to come out with that kind of fire.”
Curry was more demonstrative than usual, raising his arms after failing to get a foul call, interacting with the sold-out TD Garden crowd and flexing to celebrate a big Warriors basket. Rather than returning home at the brink of elimination, the Warriors moved closer to a fourth NBA title in eight years at home.
”I felt like we just had to let everybody know that we were here tonight,” Curry said. ”Whether that’s their crowd, their team, our team, whoever wants to see that energy and that fire, we feed off of that.”
Fans arriving at the TD Garden for what could have been the final time this season found a T-shirt draped over their seats with the 17 NBA championship banners lined up on the front. There was a blank rectangle where the 18th would go.
Now the Celtics would need to win at least one more time in San Francisco to fill in the blank.
The amped-up crowd spent much of the game booing Green, chanting an obscenity at him that is usually reserved for Bucky Dent, and jeering his many misses. He shot 1 of 7 but finished with nine rebounds and eight assists to go with two points.
Green also had an offensive rebound and a dish to Curry after returning to the game in the final minute to eliminate any chance of a Boston comeback.
”He’s the ultimate competitor. … Made huge plays down the stretch,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ”This is a tough series for him to score because of Boston’s size and athleticism, but he’s still impacting the game at a huge level.”
Curry’s foot was an issue coming into the night after Boston’s Al Horford landed on it late in Game 3. But didn’t seem to bother him on Friday night: He played 41 minutes – only Wiggins spent more time on the court for the Warriors – and made 14 of 26 shots, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
”Never even looked like it was a factor,” Kerr said. ”The physicality out there is pretty dramatic. Boston’s got the best defense in the league – huge and powerful at every position, and for Steph to take that kind of pressure all game long and still be able to defend … I think this is the strongest physically he’s ever been in his career.”
Williams was listed as questionable coming into the game with the knee injury that kept him out at the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. He started strong, with 10 rebounds in the first half, but he was limping in the second half and on the bench in the final minutes.
He finished with seven points to go with four assists and two blocked shots, playing 31 minutes.
The Warriors won the third quarter for the fourth game in a row, but not as decisively as they had previously.
Golden State had a 30-24 edge coming out of the break, closing with a 14-7 run to erase a six-point Boston lead. Curry scored 14 points in the quarter, making four 3-pointers.
The Warriors have outscored the Celtics by a combined score of 136-87 in the third quarter in the finals.
This time, it was the fourth quarter that was decisive, with the Warriors scoring 17 of the game’s last 20 points.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports