This is exactly how it should be. Down the stretch, in every game where defeat is an option, the ball should be in the hands of Stephen Curry. The fifth-year point guard showed exactly why in the Warriors’ 115-113 win over the NorCal rival Kings.
Curry was dominant down the stretch. The ball was in his hands and he refused to let the Warriors lose.
No. he wasn’t off the ball zipping around screens, fighting off hands-on defenders and relying on the pass to be delivered properly. He wasn’t a decoy, pulling the defense away to create space for someone else to post-up.
This night, Curry was in control, calming the nerves of his team and its fan base though the Warriors were a blink from a second straight gut punch of a loss.
“I mean, he is our best player,” forward Harrison Barnes put it frankly. “When he has the ball in his hands, we’re not worried.”
He scored eight of the Warriors’ last 10 points. All of them were either to tie the game or give the Warriors the lead.
Sure, it was the Kings, one of the worst defenses in the NBA. The better teams in the league put up much more resistance. But Curry needs all the practice he can being that guy for this team. He’s the only player capable of carrying this team.
And with the Warriors struggling through injuries and sporadic effort, they need to be carried.
Mark Jackson doesn’t share your panic.
Yes, the Warriors have lost three straight and have fallen to the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. But as they take on the upstart New Orleans Pelicans tonight, Jackson described his bunch as … you guessed it … “fine.”
“We’re a team that’s trying to get back to who we are,” Jackson said after Tuesday’s shootaround. “We’ve had some tough injuries but its important that we stop the bleeding and get a quality win tonight.”
There was one resounding tone from the Warriors’ last two losses, one that burns coach Mark Jackson more than the losses themselves. Both opponents wanted the win more than Golden State.
Based on the eye test, that was the case in Friday’s 102-95 loss to the host Los Angeles Lakers and Saturday’s 113-101 loss to visiting Portland. The Warriors didn’t look like the hungry team bent on exerting their will. They looked like a comfortable team expecting the light bulb to go off any moment, like someone appeased their hunger with a few Snickers.
“We were just bad – just bad,” Jackson said. “I thought there were some times where we let our inability to make shots affect the way we defended. That’s not who we are. We didn’t give the same energy the same effort. The 50/50 balls, the long rebounds and loose balls – they got every single one of them. When we are on top of our game, those are ours and we turn them into transition baskets. That’s a team that scored 64 points in the second half — 48 points off turnovers and second chance opportunities. You can’t win, you can’t win that way.”
It’s Thanksgiving week, and the Warriors embark on a three-game road trip extremely thankful for the 8-3 start that has cushioned their fall.
Losers of three straight, the Warriors have the seventh-best record in the Western Conference. Not that long ago, they went to San Antonio with a chance to claim the best record in the west.
“The expectations inside our locker room are the same,” Stephen Curry said. “It’s healthy that we’ve gone on a three-game slide and being 8-6 this early in the season. Guys are frustrated figuring out how to turn it around. We’re in a good spot right now.”
More on the last two games …
The NBA will levy a one-game suspension on Warriors’ center Andrew Bogut for his role in Saturday’s altercation. USA Today was first to report.
Forward Draymond Green, who was the only player ejected, will be fined, team sources said.
Replays show Bogut initiated the scrum when he shoved Portland center Joel Freeland, who had his arm locked while jockeying for a rebound. It appeared Bogut might have thrown a punch, at least a high elbow that scarcely missed landing.
Eventually, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Mo Williams and Wesley Matthews got involved. Then Green would have to be restrained. Williams was reportedly suspended as well.
The Warriors visit New Orleans Tuesday. Back-up center Jermaine O’Neal has missed the last four games with a bruised right knee and a right groin strain. If he can’t go, the Warriors will likely start Marreese Speights at center.
The Warriors will also be without Andre Iguodala, out indefinitely with a strained left hamstring.
SANTA CRUZ — You could tell how rough a shooting night Seth Curry had by the way his brother reacted. Having missed six straight 3-pointers, the younger Curry finally got one to go at the 4:16 mark of the third quarter.
Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star, jumped out of his seat and tossed a t-shirt high in the air in celebration, posing with his arms spread as if he’d released a dove into the clouds.
“I’m sure it was pretty funny,” Seth Curry said.
Despite just 3 of 14 attempts, it was not a lost night for the rookie out of Duke. He’s not in the D-League to shoot.
With 3:42 left in the third quarter, play was stopped due to an altercation between the Warriors and Blazers. Two possible punches were thrown, though none appeared to have landed.
Andrew Bogut and and Joel Freeeland got tangled up in the key. Bogut shoved Freeland off him, and it look like he threw an elbow at Freeland that appeared to barely miss the Blazers’ big man’s chin.. Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge then shoved Bogut in the neck. Mo Williams also jumped in to get between Bogut and Aldridge, and Bogut pushed Williams away, too. Williams responded by trying to push Bogut in the face, which may have been perceived as a punch because Williams was ejected.
It appeared the small shoving match was about to end but Wesley Matthews – who at one point was holding back aAldridge – suddenly needed to be restrained while going after someone near the Warriors’ bench. The raucous, which took place at the Warriors’ end of the court, spilled into the court side seats. Before long, Warriors’ Draymond Green – who was on the bench at the time – needed to be restrained by Mark Jackson and assistant coach Brian Scalabrine.
Matthews and Green also were ejected. Bogut and Freeland were slapped with technical fouls.
Point guard Stephen Curry has been cleared by doctors to play and will return to the starting lineup against visiting Portland tonight. Curry has missed the last two games while recovering from a mild concussion. The Warriors lost both games and are now 0-3 in games he misses.
The last hurdle of the concussion protocol was for him to participate in full-contact activity and emerge symptom free. Curry had a workout earlier on Saturday, coach Mark Jackson said. Before tip-off, Curry was tested by doctors and given the green light.
Curry sustained the injury Monday at Utah, when Jazz forward Marvin Williams fell on top of his head. He was initially deemed to be fine with a headache. But by Tuesday, his condition was upgraded to a mild concussion.
Curry sat out Wednesday’s loss to Memphis. Thursday, he took part in individual workouts at Warriors’ practice. Friday, he took part in shootaround and pre-game warm-ups. But Curry wasn’t cleared for contact drills because he wasn’t symptom free following his non-contact work. He finally got the green light for contact drills on Saturday.
About two hours before tip-off, he posted “Lock in” on Twitter, a tradition of his symbolizing he’s getting ready for game time. He took the court four pre-game warm-ups, going through his usual drills. He even made his trick shot from the tunnel. After his individual warm-ups, he was tested by doctors and deemed symptom free.