The Golden State Warriors got their record-setting 3-point shooting rolling in the second half Monday night, using their long-distance accuracy to overtake the Oklahoma City Thunder en route to a 96-88 victory in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.
Stephen Curry hit five second-half 3-pointers and scored 36 points in all, vaulting Golden State to the West title and into a rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the championship.
The best-of-seven NBA Finals will tip off Thursday night in Oakland.
The defending NBA champion Warriors, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the series, found themselves down by 13 in the first half Monday and eight early in the third quarter before gunning their way to a shot at being the league’s first repeat winner since the Miami Heat in 2012 and ’13.
Golden State, which made seven 3-pointers in the first half, used 10 over the final 24 minutes to catch and pass the Thunder, the third-seeded team in the Western playoffs.
Klay Thompson and Draymond Green bombed in consecutive threes to give the Warriors an 88-77 lead with 4:44 to go, but the Thunder wouldn’t die easily.
Russell Westbrook scored on a drive and Kevin Durant scored seven consecutive points, and all of a sudden Oklahoma City was back within 90-86 with 1:40 to play.
However, Curry, fouled on a desperation 3-point attempt, cashed in three free throws, then iced Golden State’s comeback with one final 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left, opening a 10-point lead.
Curry finished 13-for-24 from the field and 7-for-12 from 3-point range on a night when the Warriors shot better from beyond the arc (45.9 percent) than overall (43.5 percent).Curry also found time for eight assists.
Thompson hit six 3-pointers to account for almost all of his 21 points, helping Golden State outscore Oklahoma City 51-21 on long-distance shots.
Green added 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Warriors, who became just the 10th team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series.
Durant led the Thunder with 27 points, hitting 10 of his 19 shots and three of his seven 3-point attempts. He also had seven rebounds.
Westbrook recorded a 19-point, 13-assist double-double, but he shot just 7-for-21.Oklahoma City shot just 38.2 percent from the field and made only seven of its 27 3-point attempts.
Serge Ibaka added 16 points for the Thunder, who were seeking to become first team in NBA history to beat two 65-win teams in the same playoffs.
Oklahoma City eliminated the West’s second seed, the San Antonio Spurs, in the second round.
While the Warriors were holding the Thunder to five field goals in the third quarter, Curry was heating up at the other end of the court.
Golden State trailed 48-42 at the half before using a 15-6 spurt to open the third quarter and go up 57-54, their first lead since the second minute of the game.
The 15 points were the result of five 3-pointers, including three by Curry, who had made only two the entire first half.
NOTES: The game marked the first Game 7 in the Western Conference finals since the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings in overtime to advance to the NBA Finals in 2002. … Thirty previous teams rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force Game 7 in a best-of-seven NBA playoff series. Only nine of the 30 went on to win Game 7. … Warriors coach Steve Kerr elected to insert SF Andre Iguodala in place of SF Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup after earlier telling reporters, “I have made 11 alterations to the game plan, none of which I will share with you.” … The Thunder entered the game with a 2-0 record when committing fewer than 15 turnovers in the series, 1-3 when they’ve had 15 or more. … The Warriors’ Barnes (24) and Thunder coach Billy Donovan (51) celebrated birthdays Monday.