The Golden State Warriors survived a major injury scare to NBA MVP Stephen Curry but still lost the game as a James Harden-inspired Houston Rockets staved off playoff elimination with a 128-115 victory.
Curry went down in the second quarter of Game Four in the Western Conference Finals, falling hard on his upper back and neck after flipping over Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, silencing a previously raucous Houston home crowd.
The star point guard remained on the floor below the basket for a few minutes to receive treatment before gently rising to his feet and walking slowly back to the locker room as he left the game with a head contusion.
However, Curry surprisingly returned to the fray with about six minutes remaining in the third after tests determined he had not suffered a concussion.
Curry's return did little to change the momentum of the game, though, as the Rockets rode a monumental 45-point effort from Harden, his best ever playoff haul, to avoid the sweep.
Curry finished with 23 points, while guard Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 24.
Golden State, who will have their next chance to close out the series back in Oakland on Wednesday, have not been to the NBA finals since 1975.