NBA players and coaches are running out of superlatives for Andrew Bogut’s Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry.
Sharp-shooting point guard Curry bolstered his season MVP claims, scoring 39 points, including six of eight three-point attempts, as Western Conference top seeds the Warriors completed a 4-0 playoffs sweep over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
Curry also gave nine assists and dragged in eight rebounds as the Warriors became the first team to reach the second round of the playoffs with a game four 109-98 in New Orleans.
A key figure in the Warriors’ defence, Australian centre Bogut was quieter than usual statistically with three rebounds, three blocks and one goal from his 22 minutes on court.
Forward Draymond Green stepped up with 10 rebounds and 22 points while Curry’s outside shooting partner Klay Thompson had 25 points.
For the Pelicans, star centre Anthony Davis again excelled with 36 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and Eric Gordon chipped in 29 points.
But all the talk is about Curry as the Warriors, the regular season’s best-performed team, prepare to meet the winner of the Memphis Grizzlies-Portland Trailblazers series, probably the Grizzlies who lead 3-0 after a 115-109 win in Portland on Saturday.
“Steph was just Steph,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was amazing.”
Curry averaged 33.8 points and 7.3 assists in the series, making 20-of-48 three-pointers.
“Steph is on a different level,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said.
“His command of the ball, his ability to finish – the moment doesn’t bother him. He’s after something. This is important to him, and you can tell by the way he’s playing.
“Playing against Steph is just not fair at times, with some of the shots that he hits.”
Memphis may have to attempt to complete a series sweep of the Trailblazers on Monday without their point guard Mike Conley, who departed Saturday’s game early with a possible eye injury after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face from C.J. McCollum.
A bleeding Conley was helped to the locker room and later taken to hospital for evaluation.
Spain’s Marc Gasol registered 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Grizzlies while Courtney Lee had 20 points and Zach Randolph added 16.
Portland’s Nicolas Batum led all scorers with 27 points. McCollum added 26 points and Damian Lillard scored 22 points and handed out nine assists in the defeat.
In the Eastern Conference, Jerryd Bayless made a layup at the buzzer off an inbounds pass to lift Milwaukee to a 92-90 victory over the Chicago Bulls to get the Bucks on the board in their playoff series.
It was the Bucks’ first playoff win in five years and leaves the Bulls leading 3-1 in the best-of-seven match series.
Chicago had a chance to win with the game tied at 90-all. But Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton tipped a dribble away from Derrick Rose to force a steal and Bucks coach Jason Kidd called a timeout to set up the final play.
Jimmy Butler had a playoff career-high 33 points for the Bulls. Rose finished with 14 points, while Pau Gasol had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Brook Lopez had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 11 rebounds as Brooklyn cut Atlanta’s lead to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference series with a 91-83 win.