Stephen Curry was named the Western Conference Player of the Month for April by the NBA on Friday. Curry is only the franchise’s third player ever to receive the honor. The other two: Hall of Famers Chris Mullin (twice) and Bernard King.
In eight April games, Curry averaged 25.4 points, 8.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.13 steals in 38.9 minutes. He made 36 from 3-point range this month, propelling him to the record for most 3-pointers in a season. He hit 20 of 39 from 3-point range the last three regular-season games (51.3 percent) to finish the season with 272 3-pointers, surpassing Ray Allen’s mark of 269.
Curry scored 20-or-more points in five consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career. That streak was punctuated by his 47-point, nine-assist performance in a loss at Staples Center on April 12, making him just the fourth Warrior since the team moved out west to score 45 or more on the road against the Lakers (Rick Barry, Guy Rodgers and Wilt Chamberlain were the other three).
It’s been 23 years since the Warriors had a player win Player of the Month award. Mullin won it in November of 1990 and January of 1989. King, recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, received it for January 1981.
The five Western Conference Players of the Month winners this season: Kevin Durant (twice), Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Kobe Bryant. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony won the April honors for the Eastern Conference.
There was noticeable energy at the Warriors’ first playoff practice, held at a fitness center inside their hotel.
STEPHEN CURRY: “You can tell it’s different. Hopefully our preparation today and tomorrow leading up to the game will be as normal as possible.”
DRAYMOND GREEN: “It feels like we’re heading into the tournament.”
Eve-of-playoffs adrenaline or did the scheme to combat the altitude issue work?
The Warriors attempted to adjust to the thin air by coming to Denver a day early. Normally, Golden State would fly in the day before the game, practice in Oakland and then fly out, or leave Oakland in the morning and practice in the after. This time, they flew in two days earlier even though they had just gotten back from Portland the night before.
They had a meeting Thursday night, had dinner together, and got to breathe the cold, mountainous air for an evening. Friday, they got to practice and break a sweat to try to get accustomed.
JARRETT JACK: “I don’t know how you prepare for it. You just need to be in it to get used to it.”
After the game, an emphatic fist pump, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry — as he does after he hits a 3-pointer — patted his heart twice and pointed to the heavens. The record was his.
He knocked down his second 3-pointer of the night at the 6:49 mark of the second quarter. That put him at 270 3-pointers for 2012-13, the most ever in a season. The previous mark was 269, set by then-Seattle guard Ray Allen in 2005-06.
CURRY: “I was nervous, to be honest with you. I had butterflies. It was like the elephant in the room. That first shot I took was a heat check, just to see what was going on tonight. After that, it was trying not to press, just let it come. But it was hard to keep it out of my head. It was a big relief when that last one went in.”
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he didn’t want to play rookie Draymond Green unless he had to. Presuming the Warriors will handle the already-checked-out Portland Trail Blazers, doubt you’ll see Green tonight.
But the rookie out of Michigan State promised he will be ready for the playoffs. Green has been suffering from tendonitis in his right knee. It was bad enough for Green, who always says he’s fine, to agree he needed to sit out in Monday’s game vs. San Antonio. He said the rest has helped and he is ready to go tonight. But Jackson usually plays it safe. Green hasn’t played since April 11 vs. Oklahoma City. So he will have more than a full week of rest come playoff time if he doesn’t play tonight.
That’s critical because Green could be an x-factor in the playoffs. As the adjustments and match-ups play out, Green has the versatility and defensive acumen to give Jackson some flexibility. He said today his jumper was clicking. If that’s falling, he could be key for the Warriors
A second opinion confirmed center Andrew Bogut is suffering from a bone bruise in his left ankle, the Warriors announced on Tuesday. Dr. Richard Ferkel, the surgeon who operated on Bogut’s left ankle a year ago, confirmed the initial diagnosis of Warriors doctors, the team said. He sustained it a week ago, a team official said, and it has kept him out the last two games.
Bogut is officially listed as questionable for Wednesday’s regular-season finale at Portland. He did travel with the team to Portland but his status will be determined by his progress. Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he won’t hold out Bogut for precautionary reasons. If Bogut is ready, he said the starting center will play since the Warriors have had limited time with a full roster.
It was looking suspect for a while. But eventually, point guard Stephen Curry took over and the Warriors put away San Antonio’s second string.
Curry finished with 35 points on 13 of 23 shooting (including 7 3-pointers). He knocked down 6 3-pointers in the second half, sending Oracle into a frenzy, chanting “Cur-ry! Cur-ry! Cur-ry!” Eventually, the Warriors put away the Spurs, who played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw.
Monday’s home game against San Antonio takes on that much more importance with Houston winning and San Antonio losing.
The Warriors and Houston are now tied in the standings at 45-35. But Golden State lost three of the four meetings against the Rockets, so Houston holds the tie-breaker. So the Warriors now hold the No. 7 seed and Houston the No. 6.
But a lot is to be determined these last two games. Here are some bullet points covering what could happen:
The NBA announced Warriors guard Jarrett Jack has been fined $25,000 for verbal abuse of a game official.
The incident occurred at the conclusion of the Warriors’ 118-116 loss against the host Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. Jack was visibly upset at the officiating and let the refs hear it after the horn sounded.
Several calls went against the Warriors down the stretch. Stephen Curry was called for a foul fighting through a screen, leading to free throws for Steve Blake. Jack was knocked to ground while coralling a loose ball but no foul was called. Klay Thompson appeared to have been fouled on a fast-break layup but didn’t get the whistle.
The Warriors were whistled for 33 fouls, leading to 50 free throw attempts by the Lakers. Los Angeles was whistled for 17 fouls, leading to 16 Warriors free throws.
The officials have been scolded for their performance, especially by Lakers fans. So is the fine the NBA’s way of saying they don’t think the officials were bad? It seems like if they reviewed the film and saw the officials were as bad as everyone says, they would let Jack slide. (I guess here I need to pause and make sarcasm clear. Some Warriors fans are still foaming at the mouth over the Lakers game. Too soon? Clearly, the NBA isn’t going to let a fine slide as an acknowledgment of poor officiating.)