Stephen Curry is back doing everything with fire, flair and without fear after impatiently spending almost a month and a half on the sidelines.

Curry played his most minutes since missing nearly six weeks with a knee injury, finishing with 28 points and helping the Golden State Warriors advance to the Western Conference finals for a fourth straight year by dismantling Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans 113-104 in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

“I think Coach did a great job though of just giving him a little bit here and there and tonight really just letting him go,” Kevin Durant said. “You see when you let the dog off the leash what happens.”

Durant scored 24 points and Klay Thompson added 23 for the Warriors, who with a 15th straight home playoff win tied Chicago for an NBA record. The Bulls did so from April 27, 1990 to May 21, 1991.

Davis had 34 points and 19 rebounds for a Pelicans team that overcame the loss of DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending torn Achilles tendon three months ago to make this strong run. The Pelicans shaved the lead to seven points with two minutes left on a basket by Davis before Draymond Green’s turnaround fadeaway moments later.

Curry has his swagger.

“I feel confident in what I’m able to do out there,” Curry said. “Timing could still get a little bit better with the ball and things like that when you start to get so excited, still when I’m out there missing six weeks is still appreciative of being out there playing. I’ll continue to get better, continue to get my timing right, continue to get back to the normal rotation, the normal minutes I’m out there playing and hopefully won’t look back.”

The Warriors advance to play the top-seeded Houston Rockets in what has long been an anticipated Western Conference finals matchup — with a Finals feel, perhaps. The series starts Monday night in Houston. The teams didn’t meet during the 2017 postseason, but the Warriors won a five-game series in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. Houston eliminated Utah in its Game 5 earlier Tuesday.

“We want to win another championship,” Green said, “and it don’t matter who’s in the way of that.”


As happy as AJ Hinch has been with the top of his lineup, the Astros’ manager has been equally pleased with the production from the bottom half of the order, too.

Then again, the way Houston’s offense has been going lately it doesn’t seem to matter who is batting or where.

George Springer kept up his hitting surge with two hits and two RBIs, Alex Bregman homered and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Houston scored its final three runs with a big boost from the final four hitters. A walk by Brian McCann and a double by No. 9 hitter Jake Marisnick preceded Springer’s two-run double in the fifth while No. 6 hitter Marwin Gonzalez singled in a run in the sixth.

“The first two games here, we’ve gotten production out of the bottom of the order and that sets up nicely for the top of the order,” Hinch said. “When the bottom of the order contributes, it’s a complete lineup.”


Once he got ahead, Aaron Nola had an easy time finishing off hitters.

Nola struck out a career-high 12 batters in seven stellar innings, Odubel Herrera had two hits to extend his career-best on-base streak to 37 games, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Nola (5-1) allowed one run and five hits while walking none. He focused on getting ahead of batters and then used his arsenal of two-seam and four-seam fastballs, curveball and changeup to silence the Giants’ bats.

“He shut us down,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Aaron Altherr, Carlos Santana and Jorge Alfaro hit solo home runs for Philadelphia.

Nola went at least seven innings for the fourth straight start, improving to 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA in that stretch. The Giants went down swinging on nine of Nola’s K’s. The right-hander recorded nine consecutive outs via strikeout between the second and fifth innings, ending with a pickoff of Gregor Blanco at first for the final out in the fifth.

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