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Warriors get blowout win, but all eyes on Curry's ankle

Kerr lists team's centerpiece as questionable for Game 2

POSTED: Apr 16, 2016 9:58 PM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper

NBA.com

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Rockets vs. Warriors: Game 1

Stephen Curry scores 24 points and Klay Thompson adds 16 as the Warriors defeat the Rockets in Game 1, 104-78.

— He bounced in place on the sideline in front of the bench and pleaded his case to several coaches and took two trips to the locker room for tune-ups and made his displeasure obvious, and still nothing.

Stephen Curry was absolutely, positively not getting back in the game. And not just because the Warriors had been in control of Saturday afternoon's playoff opener since, oh, the end of the national anthem. Because of two other details.

Stephen Curry.

Ankle trouble.

Curry "tweaked" his right ankle, according to the Warriors, missed all but 2 minutes 47 seconds of the second half, which isn't bad compared to the Rockets who missed pretty much the whole game, but bad enough that he was labeled as questionable for Game 2 here on Monday night. Welcome to the scenario when Golden State can drub Houston, 104-78 in Oracle Arena and shivers still run down the spine of the Bay Area.

Curry and any medical issue triggers alarms, of course. He's the 2014-15 MVP about to become the 2015-16 MVP, the league's leading scorer from the regular season that ended Wednesday, the night he also became the first player to ever break 400 three-pointers for a season, the seventh player in history to make at least 50 percent of his shots from the field, 40 percent from behind the arc and 90 percent from the line. Even on a team with two other All-Stars, a leading candidate for Coach of the Year, a reigning Finals MVP, two big men who made the All-Defense teams in 2015 and several potential Olympians later this summer, Curry is the undisputed centerpiece.

Curry and ankle injuries, though, starts a flash-fire epidemic of hyperventilating. He has needed two surgeries in the pros, one four years ago that prompted genuine concern about his future in the NBA. He would get hurt simply by running down court, without being touched or making a cut. The persistent problems opened the Warriors to second-guessing and even ridicule for signing him to a four-year, $44-million extension later in 2012, before the contract turned into one of the bargains of the league and remembering the debate at the time seems hilarious.

The ensuing seasons resulted in 78, 78, 80 and, in 2015-16, 79 appearances. There were no problems. For opponents, absolutely. But none on the health front for Curry.

And then, suddenly, there was.

Right now I don't see a scenario where I'll be out.

– Stephen Curry on his ankle injury

Curry missed a short jumper with 2:10 remaining in the second quarter, changed direction to go the other way on defense and "felt it slip or tweak." He came out with 1:07 remaining, removed the right shoe, and soon exited up the tunnel behind the Warriors bench and headed to the locker room. He was back on the court for the start of the third quarter, indicating to the franchise and the region it was all right to breath again, except that it quickly became obvious Curry was not moving well.

Coach Steve Kerr pulled him with 9:13 left in the third. Curry returned to the locker room. Then he came out again just before the start of the fourth, sweats off, hopping in place in front of the bench, pressing his case to be put in even with Golden State up 22. He lobbied Kerr, then two of the assistants, Luke Walton and Bruce Fraser. There is no indication any of them actually laughed in his face at the request, but the answer was a definite "no."

It was Stephen Curry and ankles, it was the first 48 minutes of what could be months of playoffs, and it was every bit the rout that could have been expected in a 1-8 matchup. He was lucky the Warriors hadn't wrapped him in a mass of down pillows and called the cops to escort him home at halftime.

"Well, he saw I was writing the five players' names on the board who I'm sending out there and he saw his name wasn't on there and he was incredulous," Kerr said. "And I said, 'I don't like the way you're moving right now.' He said, 'No, I'll be all right,' and of course he's going to say that. He's a competitor. He wants to play. But we're not going to let him play if there's any risk of making it worse. Obviously we're hoping that we're going to be in the playoffs for the next couple of months. So we don't want to make any chances."

Postgame: Warriors on Game 1 Win

Head coach Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston speak postgame after their Game 1 victory over the Rockets.

Including in Game 2 on Monday. More will be known as the Warriors gather for a workout Sunday morning at their practice facility, namely whether the joint stiffens and swells overnight, but Kerr is calling him questionable for now with Golden State obviously wanting to avoid an ankle that remains problematic for weeks.

"Right now I don't see a scenario where I'll be out," Curry said after scoring a game-high 24 points despite playing just 20 minutes, making eight of 13 attempts overall and five of seven behind the arc. "Obviously if it's not right and at risk of further injury and what not, that's the only thing that I think we have to worry about. Pain tolerance and all that stuff, I kind of know what I can deal with on the court. But you don't want anything more serious to happen favoring the ankle or what not. So that's what we'll pay attention to the next few days."

The Warriors. The Bay Area. The entire league.

Stephen Curry has an ankle problem. Everyone will be paying attention to it the next few days.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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