Stephen Curry’s right ankle hadn’t been much of an issue for weeks. But Wednesday’s injury proved it wasn’t fully healed. Now he’s paying the price.
Curry had what he calls a phantom ankle injury. He rolled his ankle without stepping on anything. He had the ball on the right wing and tried to stop on a dime and dribble to his right, and his right ankled rolled over.
It was his fourth time this season rolling the same ankle. He did it once Oct. 19 against the Lakers in San Diego. He did it again in the opener vs. Houston on Oct. 27. He did it again when Eric Gordon crossed him up … sorry, when he tripped over Blake Griffin’s shoe lace … on Oct. 29. That time, he didn’t return to the game and sat out the next two contests.
He came back with the ankle no not 100 percent, but he wore a protective brace, a restrictive, metal contraption that Curry couldn’t stand. He took it off in the middle of the road game at Toronto on Nov. 8. (He lightly tweaked his ankle in that game, but it turned out to be minor) and gradually became less of a concern. But the way he injured it proves his ankle never fully healed. The ligaments weren’t strong enough to hold in his ankle on sharp cuts like that.
X-rays were negative for a fracture. His He his right foot was in a protective boot. He was scheduled for an MRI on Thursday afternoon. The likelihood is that Curry will be out as long as it takes for the ankle to get fully healed.
LEE: “It’s just tough. To continually keep rolling it like that, it might be something he has to sit out for a while and get it back strengthened. Because I’m no doctor but I don’t think its very good for you when you keep rolling it over and over. That can’t be good for you.”
Based on my amateur experience with sprained ankles – I’ve had a few in my non-illustrious playground career – a sprained ankle takes at least a couple of weeks to fully heal. If Curry sat out a couple of weeks, that would put him back for the Christmas Day home game against Portland, giving him 16 days of rest and treatment and keeping him out for six games. No doubt, Curry is going to try to fight it and come back sooner, which is why he’s in this situation now. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision was taken from him.
In the 10 games prior to the San Antonio game, Curry averaged 22.7 points on 51.2 percent shooting with 5.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 3.1 turnovers.
SMART: “Every time there is a limp, I hold my breath. Once you sprain something for the first time, coaches have to be on alert that it can happen at any given moment. Then you think you get over the hump and it comes out of nowhere. So, unfortunately, when you’re playing back-to-back games, and back-to-back minutes, those things are always going to be lurking. We just have to hope. He is pretty resilient about his treatment and getting it back to function. … Any time you lose a talent, you drop down three or four levels. He is definitely a talent.”
To make up for the likelihood that Curry is out, the Warriors are turning to an old friend, Acie Law. According to a team source, the Warriors are signing Acie Law today. Forward Jeff Adrien will be cut.
Warriors general manager Larry Riley had said he wanted to see how the team looks with Lou Amundson and Ekpe Udoh before he makes a move. He was forced into doing something sooner than he’d like with Curry’s injury. Lou Amundson is back and Udoh is close, judging by the repeated references to his imminent return by players and coaches.
Part of the reason, I am assuming, Riley wanted to wait to see Amundson and Udoh is because he wants to be sure he doesn’t need Jeff Adrien before he lets him go. Golden State has the maximum 15 players on the roster and needed to cut someone in order to sign a free agent. The undrafted rookie power forward is the only player on a non-guaranteed contract and the obvious first choice to be cut. (No, Jeremy Lin will not be waived.) With Amundson and Udoh, the Warriors don’t need Adrien. They would have all the strength and energy and rebounding they need.
Though Udoh isn’t back yet, the return of Amundson helps considerably. Amundson is viewed by management as a back-up center, but he can play power forward. Plus, the Warriors have come to like Dan Gadzuric as someone to eat up minutes here and there.
After Reggie Williams went scoreless on two shots in Tuesday’s loss at Dallas, Keith Smart pulled Williams aside for a one-on-one chat/film session.
SMART: “I shared with him that I thought that he didn’t look ready to play and that he is afraid to make a mistake on the floor. And he saw that on the film.”
Wednesday, Williams didn’t show an ounce of hesitancy. Probably because with point guard Stephen Curry out, Williams didn’t have to worry about Smart yanking him from the game. The result was the Reggie from last year, the dude with the knack for putting the ball in the hole. Williams reminded Smart – and himself – why they management felt comfortable letting go of Anthony Morrow and C.J. Watson - because in Reggie they have all the offense they need off the bench. Wednesday, Reggie was that OG at the local park, playing in jeans and Timberlands, who nobody can guard.
SMART: “I think he came out tonight and played the way we are envisioning him (the team, coaching staff, organization) and he has to continue to play like he did (Wednesday). He has to know that when he is open, he has the ability. He is probably one guy on our bench that you can say can put up 31 points on a consistent basis. That is what we are expecting of him. Now he just has to understand that we want that from him and we believe that he can do that. As long as he can think like that and continue to take this game here against a really good team and play that way. He didn’t force a lot of things. He did the right thing with open shots. You have to make open shots when you can.”
Lee is paying a price for playing. Though he said his elbow is improving, he said he still experiences pain, especially when he gets hit in the elbow. And his wound is taking longer to heal because he’s playing.
He said the gash on the inside of his left elbow is still disgusting. It’s hard to stitch up because it’s more a hole than an incision. It is still open and requires regular maintenance.
LEE: “It hurt really badly after (Tuesday’s) game. It was a blood bath when I took my elbow pad and tape off. The wound itself really isn’t improving too much because I’m continuing to play on it. But at this point, it’s either that or sitting out. I’m not sitting out.”
Lee said his elbow is affecting effecting his shot. He can’t follow through completely on his stroke because he can’t straighten his elbow, no not quickly and forcefully anyway. He said not having a proper follow through is leading to his shots hitting the front rim on mid-range jumpers and free throws. He’s missed 12 of his last 25 free throws.
He made a few jumpers against San Antonio and Dallas. He has to compensate for lack of follow through by getting more push in his legs. But that’s hard to do because he still isn’t in the shape he needs to be in.
He was 7-for-10 shooting against the Spurs and he’s shot 47.3 percent in his last six games. Lee has averaged 38.3 minutes since returning from injury.
LEE: “It’s all effort because mentally, I’m still there. I want to get it done. I just want to get our team winning so badly that I’m just trying to will myself through it. It hasn’t been the easiest time. It’s been very difficult and I just can’t wait to get back to where I can be able to help this team at 100 percent.”
Vladimir Radmanovic spoke up. Then, when his number was called, he contributed. He had 6 points and 2 rebounds in just over five minutes at Dallas. Though one of his misses clanked off the side of the backboard, he hit two critical 3s as the Warriors tried to steal a win.
Wednesday, he played 16 minutes. He had 7 points on 3-for-3 shooting with 4 assists.
Since he set a career-high with 30 points at Minnesota, Dorell Wright’s shot has all but disappeared. He was 10-for-15 that game, including 9-for-12 from the 3-point line.
Since then, he’s been what’s cooler than being cool. And he hasn’t stopped pulling the trigger. Over the last five games, he’s taken 77 shots. He missed 50 of them. He’s shooting 35.1 percent in that span, including 10-for-32 from 3-point range.
On the bright side, his pump fake is still working.