EditorsNote: update 2: adds additional quotes from Messina, Kerr and Cook
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 26 points Thursday night as the Golden State Warriors moved within one game of a first-round playoff sweep of the San Antonio Spurs with a 110-97 victory in San Antonio.
The second-seeded Warriors can advance to the Western Conference semifinals with a victory in Game 4 at San Antonio on Sunday afternoon.
No team has ever rebounded from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.
The only negatives for Golden State were Durant rolling his left ankle and guard Shaun Livingston turning his right ankle in the fourth quarter. Durant left the game for good with the Warriors ahead by 15 points.
Afterward, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “Both sprained ankles, but I think they’ll be all right.”
The Spurs played Game 3 without coach Gregg Popovich, whose wife, Erin, died Wednesday. Assistant coach Ettore Messina filled in for Popovich.
“There is definitely kind of a subdued feeling, and it’s permeated our entire locker room,” said Kerr, who played for the Spurs under Popovich. “There is just a different feeling, one of perspective and sadness.”
Messina said of the Spurs’ response, according to the San Antonio Express-News, “Everybody did a fantastic job of really trying to support each other and facing this moment as it should be faced.”
Golden State put itself in a commanding position in the series by gradually pulling away from the seventh-seeded Spurs, who had the third-best home record in the NBA during the regular season.
Five Golden State players, including Durant, bombed in 3-pointers in the third quarter, as the Warriors turned a 58-56 advantage into an 84-68 margin late in the period.
Durant hit nine of his 17 shots to help Golden State outshoot the Spurs 51.2 percent to 42.5 percent from the floor.
Durant also collected a team-high nine rebounds and handed out six assists.
Klay Thompson contributed 19 points, Livingston 16 and Quinn Cook 12 for Golden State, while Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala added 10 apiece.
Green had a game-high seven assists to go with six rebounds and four blocked shots for the Warriors, who have won at least one road game in their past 17 playoff series.
The win was the Warriors’ 11th in their past 12 meetings with the Spurs, and also was the 50th for Kerr in 65 playoff games. He became the fastest in NBA history to reach the milestone.
LaMarcus Aldridge posted an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double for the Spurs, who lost in the first round of the playoffs just four times in their previous 20 visits.
Tony Parker had 16 points, Patty Mills 14 and Rudy Gay 11 for San Antonio, which shot just 7-for-33 (21.2 percent) from 3-point range.
“We can never count those guys out,” Cook said of the Spurs. “They’ve been who they are for the last 20 years for a reason. ... Being a fan of the game, this being my first playoffs, but I know those guys are still gonna give us all they got in Game 4, so our vets will have us ready. Coaches will have us ready to make adjustments.”
—Field Level Media