Perhaps having been through it so much has made him comfortable. But Curry wasn’t moping about this latest injury. Instead, he decided to have some fun with it.
Curry checked out of the game with 2:26 left in the third quarter after spraining his left ankle. He tried to stop on a dime and rolled it pretty good. He came back in the fourth quarter and finished the game. Certainly, winning Game 2 helped his mood. And that it wasn’t his right ankle, which has given him problems for the last couple years.
Curry was feeling good enough to joke about his sprained left ankle on Twitter Monday. He solicited his followers’ best ankle puns. The quips poured in.
“There were so many of them,” Curry said, sitting on the scorer’s table before practice.
Let’s just take a moment to reflect on the mastery of the Warriors’ performance.
They scored 131 points. They shot 64.6 percent. They made 14 of 25 3-pointers. They had four players score at least 20 points.
It was the best playoff shooting performance in franchise history. It was the best by any team since April 25, 1991, when Utah — yes, the John Stockton and Karl Malone led Jazz — shot 65.1 percent against Phoenix 22 years ago.
The Warriors only missed 28 shots all night. And that’s without David Lee, one of the best offensive players in the NBA.
It was such an impressive display, even Charles Barkley was floored after Golden State’s 131-117 win.
CHARLES BARKLEY: “I’ve been in (and around) the NBA for 30 years now and I’ve never seen guys shoot it like that.”
The cliché is a series doesn’t begin until a road team wins. Well, Golden State emphatically breathed life into this first-round series by taking homecourt advantage from the No. 3 seed. Denver had won 24 straight at the Pepsi Center, their last loss coming on Jan. 18.
So now, the Warriors come home for two games at Oracle Arena, which with the scent of an upset in the air figures to reach We Believe levels.
JARRETT JACK: “We can’t wait to see them. I’ve heard so much about how crazy our playoff atmosphere was the last time they were in the playoffs. I’m looking forward for them to top that.”
More on the Game 2 win…
When rookie forward Harrison Barnes drove the lane and dunked it backwards over Nuggets forward Anthony Randolph, Golden State’s bench went crazy in celebration. Warriors forward David Lee, on the bench in a blazer, wanted to join them. But with his torn right hip flexor, which has knocked him out for the rest of the playoffs, he had to be very careful with his celebration.
LEE: “I had to wait an extra second to stand up. I had to let the traffic clear out, then I stood up and cheered.”
It’s killing Lee to not be out there. But he said it didn’t bother him at all watching the performance his teammates put together in Tuesday’s improbable win at Denver, the Nuggets first home loss in more than four months.
For the second consecutive game, the Warriors went into the locker room with a lead. This time, however, it seemed far more improbable.
With All-Star forward David Lee out with a torn right hip flexor, Warriors coach Mark Jackson threw a curveball and started back-up guard Jarrett Jack in his place. The decision to go small ball paid off as the Warriors torched the Nuggets defense.
The Warriors shot 61 percent in the first half to take a 61-53 lead into the locker room, beating Denver at its own game.
Point guard Stephen Curry, who was 7 of 20 in Game 1, got off to another rough start. He missed five of his first six shots. With Denver paying special attention to him, he started off distributing. Instead of staying behind the 3-point line, he split the double-team off the pick-and-roll and got into the lane. When the defense collapsed, he moved the ball, and his teammates knocked down shots. Thompson hit his first four. Rookie forward Drayond Green and veteran forward Richard Jefferson hit 3s off Curry’s drive-and-kick.
Eventually, Curry found a rhythm and took over the game. He scored 15 points on 7 of 10 shooting in the second quarter. His jumper with 2:52 put Golden State up 56-45.
Curry finished with half with 17 points on 8 of 15 shooting with seven assists.
Already minus their starting power forward, the Warriors will have just a fraction of their back-up center. Festus Ezeli is playing through a sprained right knee. As a result, he has to wear a bulky brace which is limiting his mobility and explosiveness.
However, coach Mark Jackson may not have a choice but to play the limited Ezeli in Game 2 at the Pepsi Center. With forward David Lee out with a torn right hip flexor, the Warriors may need the rookie out of Vanderbilt to eat up minutes. Ezeli said he’s ready.
“My leg ain’t broke,” he said with a smile before the game.
Ezeli sprained the knee in the season finale at Portland last Wednesday. He only played six minutes in Game 1, partly because he wasn’t moving well (and because starting center Andrew Bogut was lights out.
Ezeli hasn’t been cleared to play without the brace so he has less than his usual mobility and explosiveness. He said the brace slows him down and limits his jumping. It’s a sleeve with a metal fixtures designed to hold his knee in place.
Still, Ezeli said he’s ready to bang with Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried, a relentless power forward known as “The Manimal.” How will he hang with one of the most energetic and physical bigs in the playoffs?
When asked, Ezeli didn’t saw a word. Just tapped the left side of his chest.
If Jackson doesn’t play Ezeli, or pulls him early if he doesn’t like his movement, that could mean minutes for veteran back-up Andris Biedrins. He’s been dealing with back pain.
Jackson has been playing the underdog card since he arrived in Denver. He was asked if he still needed to sell that Denver was the better team and George Karl was the better coach.
Indiana forward Paul George, who seized the throne of the Pacers franchise after Danny Granger was lost to inject, was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. George, selected as an All-Star reserve, averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals. He was the only player in the league to record at least 140 steals (143) and 50 blocks (51).
He received 52 first-place votes and won easily with 311 points. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry finished in eighth place with one first-place vote.
So, naturally, Curry — who was already an All-Star university — would be disappointed right? This news changes things for Game 2, right, as he would now be determined to prove voters wrong, huh?
“I finished eighth?” Curry asked when confronted with the votes.
This is the part where he rants about being disrespected and not getting his just due. He paused got a minute, staring at his teammates shooting around while he composed his answer.
“Wait, what does that mean? Does that mean people think I wasn’t good last year and I surprised them? Or does it mean not a lot old people think I improved? I’m not sure how I should feel.”
Them, he shot me a look that, if it were a hashtag would say #aintnobodygottimeforthat
Klay Thompson had the 12th most votes, including one first-place vote. Guard Jarrett Jack got one third place vote.
Warriors forward David Lee, out for the season with a torn right hip flexor, has attending every practice. He’s participates in every meeting. He is filling his teammates eat with whatever insight he can offer.
But Lee said should he be inactive for Game 2, you don’t have to worth about him live Tweeting.
“Can you imagine that?” Lee said with a laugh. “Nah. I’ve got too many holes in my game to be on Twitter breaking down other people’s games.”
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s in-game Tweets became national news. Out for the year due to a torn Achilles, Bryant couldn’t be with the team for Game 1 at San Antonio. As he explained, flying would increase the swelling in his injured foot. So Bryant did some live coaching on Twitter, offering critique and strategy to his followers.
He has since said he would stop live Tweeting because it had become a distraction.
NBA legend Jerry West, in a radio interview with ESPN, doesn’t think it’s a good idea.
WEST: “That’s Kobe. I have nothing but respect for him. The social media, I just don’t think it’s good. Therms enough pressure on everyone now. I don’t understand that at all. I never have understood it. … It’s just something I wouldn’t do.”