Stephen Curry tossed up a rainbow three-pointer from the corner that tied the score but really served to drive a stake right into the heart of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Curry's shot while falling out of bounds sent the game into an overtime that the Golden State Warriors' opponents could have never imagined. The Pelicans entered the fourth quarter leading by 20 at home, only to see Curry lead the Warriors back from the dead for a stunning 123-119 victory and a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series Thursday night.
The 20-point fourth-quarte rcomeback was the third-biggest in NBA playoff history.
The Pelicans left a crack open after dominating for most of the game when Anthony Davis missed a free throw with 9.6 seconds left, giving the Warriors a chance to tie it with a three.
Of course the ball went to Curry, and the NBA's all-time single-season record-holder in such shots missed his first try. Given a second try off a Marreese Speights offensive rebound, Curry threw up some magic from the corner opposite the Pelicans bench. Curry pumped his fists after Tyreke Evans' three-point attempt at the buzzer missed for New Orleans.
In overtime, Curry started the scoring with his seventh three of the game. He finished off the Pelicans with two free throws to give the Warriors a four-point lead with 3.2 seconds left that gave him a game-high 40 points.
Klay Thompson added 28 points for Golden State, including six threes of his own. Draymond Green had 12 points, 17 rebounds and five assists.
Davis poured in 29 points, and Ryan Anderson added 26 off the bench, but it wasn't enough. The Warriors can sweep the series with another road victory on Saturday.
Chicago 113, Milwaukee 106 (2OT): Derrick Rose scored 34 points, and Jimmy Butler added 24 in the Bulls' double-overtime victory over the host Bucks, giving Chicago a 3-0 series lead.
Butler got the second OT off to a rousing start, converting a bad pass from Giannis Antetokounmpo into a dunk that started an 8-0 run that gave Chicago a 109-101 lead with 2:44 left. It was one of four steals in the final period for Chicago.
"Jimmy set the tone for that," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said about the late defense.
Rose played a huge part, too.
"Playing with Derrick, he makes everything easier for everybody," Butler said.
The Bulls will go for the sweep on Saturday in Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo had 25 points and Khris Middleton added 18 for Milwaukee, which went scoreless for more than six minutes between the first and second overtimes.
"We just got sloppy and stagnant," Middleton said.
Or exactly the opposite of how Rose played for most of the game. He finished 12-for-23 from the field and 5-for-9 from three-point range, adding eight assists and five rebounds.
Cleveland 103, Boston 95: LeBron James got to the Celtics' arena early. When he left the Cavaliers had a chance to put an early end to the series.
James scored 31 points in his first playoff game in Boston since a masterful performance in the 2012 postseason. And Cleveland moved one win away from a sweep in its first playoff series in five years.
James arrived an hour early at the morning shootaround, accompanied by teammate J.R. Smith. "We were together last night watching playoff games," James said. "He said he wanted to go early and I said, 'Let's go.' "
Cleveland can complete the sweep Sunday in Boston.
Kevin Love added 23 points for Cleveland; he made two three-pointers after Boston cut its deficit to 95-92.
"Kevin has been great," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "Maybe he didn't score as much in the second game as he did tonight, or in the first game, but he's been engaged at both ends" of the court.