After the buzz had died down. After he’d done interviews, received treatment and gotten dressed, Curry sat at an empty locker room and drank his post-game shake. You could tell he was still trying to process what he’d just done.
54 points at Madison Square Garden
When did you know you were feeling it?
“Some time during middle of the second quarter. I think the last transition 3 I hit. Usually one of those heat-check kind of shots and it went in. I was just happy I had my legs. I knew I was going to have to play the whole game so it was good that they were underneath me.”
Is there something about playing in this building?
“It’s always fun to come play back here, regardless if you score 50 or 10, just because of the atmosphere and the history. Even now, coach being in charge of the team now and his history here, we knew coming in it would be a special game. Obviously without D-Lee and Bogut, it was going to be tough. But I felt like we could fight our way to a win.”
The Warriors went to Indiana and faced a playoff team, perhaps a squad that can make some noise. They played a team looking to get/stay on all cylinders. It required the Warriors to play at another level. They couldn’t reach it.
Assuredly, winning at Indiana was a tall order, so the 108-97 loss, snapping their three-game win streak, was no shame. But do the Warriors have another level for these last 28 games?
Certainly, the rest of this trip they will get teams rounding into postseason form (or in Philadelphia’s case, trying to get into the playoffs). The Warriors will have to handle the physicality, the intensity. They will have to play with poise and focus.
It’s clearly time to tighten ship.
STEPHEN CURRY: “Teams are gearing up for playoff basketball, ramping up the intensity a little bit. It’s going to happen. It’s healthy just to not back down, be physical. You’d like to not see that tussle happen. But for the most part, it was just a good, clean physical game that we have to expect for the rest of the year.”
The Warriors pressed “send” on a couple of last-minute deals to get under the tax. Doing so cost them two second-year players they once had high hopes for.
Point guard Charles Jenkins, who started several games as a rookie and proved reliable, was shipped to Philadelphia, according to sources. Tyler, the former high school prodigy who barely got off the bench in one-plus seasons, is head to Atlanta.
The salary dumps, which occurred just before the deadline, cut more than $1.5 million off the Warriors’ salary cap figure. The Warriors needed to trim $1.2 million to avoid paying the luxury tax penalty.
But this deal was less about saving the $1 million now and buying the Warriors time in the future. Golden State is resigned to being a tax team. Having already committed to an expensive core, management is prepared to go over the tax to upgrade the talent. Getting under now means they can go over the tax next season and not incur the harsh penalties for being a repeat offender.
Basically, the Warriors want to save their go-over-the-tax card until it really matters. Going over the tax to keep Jenkins, Tyler and rookie guard Kent Bazemore turned out to be not worth it for Golden State.
Two hours left under the trade deadline and it seems Warriors management has decided to try to get under the same luxury tax threshold they’ve been sort of dismissive about all season. Perhaps the last-minute fury of the deadline has opened some windows for the Warriors to get under and Golden State brass is trying to seize the opportunity.
Why do it? Isn’t co-owner Joe Lacob a big-spending owner?
Lacob & Co. is willing to spend, but its only smart to get under now if possible. Not only does being over the tax mean the Warriors miss out on a cut of the tax revenue. But it puts them in line for receiving the hefty repeater penalties for being over the tax multiple years.
Golden State can still avoid the repeater penalty, even if it can’t get under now, but making sure it is under in the future. But the smarter move is to get under now and allow for the flexibility to go over when the payoff is greater.
As it is now, the Warriors are going over for end-of-the-bench reserves. They like these young players, but are the worth it?
The Warriors’ options are slim. They have to get rid of Jeremy Tyler somehow. But even his $763K salary isn’t enough.
The Warriors need to shave $1.2 million off their cap to get under. So that means they need to be creative.
Dumping Tyler and second-year point guard Charles Jenkins would do the trick. But chances are the Warriors won’t be able to dump both and get nothing in return.
The Warriors would probably have to move someone like Carl Landry, who is making $4 million this season. Trading Landry, who will likely opt out of his contract and become a free agent, and getting a player worth at least $1.2 million in return would do the trick. However, that would cost the Warriors their best low-post option and a big reason they sit at 31-23 currently.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson is a man of conviction. So you know when he’s getting fed up, things must be pretty bad.
And after Golden State’s sixth straight loss, a 115-101 loss at Utah on Tuesday, it sounded as if his patience was dental floss thin. He even talked about “shaking things up.”
STEPHEN CURRY: “It’s just frustrating. But somehow we’ve got to find a way to get out of it. We can’t talk our way out of it. We’ve said all the right things about how we could get out of it, but it’s just going to take some effort to do it.”
Golden State (30-23) has now lost five straight on the road and six straight to winning teams. The Warriors dropped to seven games over .500 for the first time since they were 15-8 and are now in a virtual tie with the Jazz for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.
The Warriors host Phoenix, owners of the worst record in the West, on Wednesday. That game has suddenly morphed from a should-win to a must-win.
JACKSON: “I’m not going to jump off this ship. I believe in my guys. But one thing that will take place is guys are going to play for their minutes. We’ve lost six in a row. We haven’t played good basketball. And I’ve been extremely patient. … We’ve got to find five guys on the floor that’s going to scratch, claw, compete. Because history tells me — I’ve been part of it — the only way out of a funk like this is working your way out of it.”
Warriors back-up point guard Jarrett Jack said he’s going to have a chat with Stephen Curry. Jack, a playoff tested veteran, said it’s time he and Golden State’s young star have a talk.
“About the importance of these 30 games,” Jack said after Tuesday’s shootaround. “and how the way he conducts himself is going to be very influential on how everybody else goes.”
The Warriors are late in the third quarter of the season. And in their position, they desperately need to finish strong. Riding a five-game losing streak, facing six of their next eight on the road, the Warriors to push themselves to another level.
Looking at their roster, the best candidate to be the catalyst of such a push is Curry.
Center Andrew Bogut is ready to take the next level in his return, according to the Warriors’ doctors and athletic trainers.
He has been cleared to play both games in back-to-back sets, the next step in his rehabilitation. When Bogut returned to action on Jan. 28, he was limited to 25 minutes and prohibited from playing two games in two nights until after the All-Star Break. Well, the All-Star break has come and gone so it is time to see if Bogut’s surgically repaired left ankle can handle such rigors.