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WARRIORS 96, THUNDER 88

Warriors complete comeback, return to NBA Finals

Stephen Curry, who scored 36 points Monday, will look to add a second straight NBA title to the second straight NBA MVP award he won this season. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry dribbled every which way and drained yet another 3-pointer in the waning moments, pulled his jersey up into his mouth, and yelled to the rafters in triumph once more.

A special, record-setting season saved for the defending champs, with a memorable comeback added to the long list of accomplishments.

Now, the MVP and his teammates are playing for another NBA title — just as they planned all along.

Bring on LeBron James once more.

Curry and Klay Thompson carried the 73-win Warriors right back to the NBA Finals, as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 96-88, on Monday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

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Curry scored 36 points with seven 3-pointers to finish with an NBA-record 32 in a seven-game series. Thompson added 21 points and six 3s, two days after his record 11 3-pointers led a Game 6 comeback that sent the series home to raucous Oracle Arena for one more.

The Warriors became the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a postseason series. They return to the NBA Finals for a rematch with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the 2015 title in six games as Golden State captured its first championship in 40 years.

Game 1 is Thursday night in Oakland.

MORE: Now that Thunder are done, what happens to Kevin Durant?

‘‘It'll be fun,’’ Warriors All-Star Draymond Green said. ‘‘You know they’re rolling right now, they got a lot of guys going, but looking forward to the challenge.’’

Curry, his signature mouthpiece dangling out and the game ball cradled in his left hand, pumped his right arm as yellow confetti fell through Oracle Arena once the final buzzer sounded.

With the Thunder trailing, 90-86, Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a 3-point try with 1:18 to go and the shot clock running out.

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The MVP made all three free throws, then a 3-pointer to seal it.

And Golden State’s beloved ‘‘Strength In Numbers’’ catchphrase coined by Coach of the Year Steve Kerr was needed in every way on this night to do it.

Andre Iguodala joined the starting lineup for just the second time all season and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP hung tough against Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists, and 7 rebounds.

Oklahoma City won Game 1, 108-102, at deafening, sold-out Oracle Arena, so Golden State never envisioned this one coming easily.

It just took a quarter and a half for Thompson to warm up after he scored 41 points in a 108-101 win Saturday at Oklahoma City that sent the series back home in the East Bay.

He missed his initial seven shots before hitting a 3-pointer with 6:02 before halftime, energizing the Warriors in their first Game 7 at home in 40 years.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and Iguodala pulled the Warriors within 54-51 with 7:57 left in the third. They tied it on Curry’s 3 at 7:21 and he followed with another 3 to give his team the lead.

Curry and Thompson each topped the previous record for 3s in a seven-game series, 28 by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen. Curry hit one over 7-foot Steven Adams in the third, and Thompson wound up with 30.

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Iguodala replaced Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup for just his second start of the season and first of the playoffs. Kerr and his staff did the same thing last year in crunch time.

Iguodala made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to Green for Golden State’s first basket of the game, and his smothering defense on Durant kept the Thunder star without a shot until his 3 at the 5:45 mark in the first.

Durant had just 9 points on five shots in the first half.

But Oklahoma City dictated the tempo with snappy passes and the hard, aggressive rebounding that had been such a part of its success this season. The Thunder couldn’t maintain it.

The Warriors began 3 for 11 from long range and 9 of 32 overall while falling behind, 35-22.

Their Warriors’ 42 first-half points were their fewest at home this season.