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Curry cools off Blazers in OT

Teams like to say they always want to play against the best, to play opponents when they are healthy and have their best players, and that if you want to win, you have to beat the best.

If those were the Trail Blazers’ wishes, they got them on Monday night — and lost in overtime to Golden State as Warriors star guard Stephen Curry returned from injury in the nick of time for the defending NBA champions.

Curry’s 17-point explosion in OT enabled the Warriors to stave off near-disaster, as they edged the Trail Blazers 132-125 at Moda Center.

The Warriors took a 3-1 lead in their second-round NBA playoff series, with Game 5 set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Oakland.

Golden State outscored the Blazers 21-14 in the extra five minutes.

Portland fell to 4-1 at home in the postseason despite big games from its starting guards. Damian Lillard scored 36 points, and CJ McCollum had 24. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu added 18 from the starting lineup.

Curry wound up with 40 points in 37 minutes. Klay Thompson tallied 23 points, and Draymond Green got 21.

The Blazers scored 16 of the first 18 points, then stretched their lead to 21-5 after 7:05. It looked like another Portland blowout, akin to what the Blazers did to the Curry-less Warriors in Game 3 on Saturday at Moda.

Curry entered the game midway through the first quarter, but wasn’t sharp for quite a while, and Portland led 26-18 after one quarter.

The Warriors’ erratic play continued, and Green picked up his third foul with 3:20 left in the second quarter.

Then, with 1:36 to go in the half, Warriors guard Shaun Livingston picked up two technicals in a matter of seconds after arguing a referee’s decision, and he headed to the showers, leaving the Warriors even more shorthanded.

At the half, the Blazers were on top 67-57, with Curry 5 of 12 from the field but 0 of 5 on 3’s and having scored 11 points, enough to barely keep his team in the game.

Lillard had 17 points and McCollum 16 at the break.

The Warriors didn’t stop the Blazers in the third quarter, but they got some offense going, enough to lead 86-85 at the end of the period, even with Curry up to — or down to — 0 for 9 from beyond the arc.

The fourth quarter was back and forth, with Curry finally hitting a 3 but the Warriors unable to stop Lillard and company from the outside.

With Golden State down by one point, Curry jacked up a very long-range and very quick 3 off the dribble. It missed, and Mason Plumlee scored easily at the other end to give Portland a 111-108 lead with 58.6 seconds remaining.

Harrison Barnes tied the score with a 3, with Curry notching his eighth and final assist.

Lillard had 12 points in the fourth quarter, but he missed a late jumper, setting up the Warriors’ final possession of regulation. Curry got a running bank shot, a good look, but missed it just before the buzzer, and the teams went to OT tied at 111-111.

Curry scored the Warriors’ first 12 points in the extra period, giving his team a 123-118 lead with 1:51 to go.

A turnover led to a Golden State fast-break basket for a seven-point lead. Lillard stumbled his way to the free-throw line and made two shots with 1:18 left.

But then it was Curry, draining a 3 to make it 128-120 for Golden State, with 65 seconds to play, and after some misses at both ends, the Blazers were out of chances and time.

Curry, who had 10 points in the fourth quarter, ended the game 16 of 32 from the field and 5 of 16 on 3-pointers. He also had nine rebounds.