Game 59 rewind: Warriors’ Stephen Curry has masterful all-around performance against Knicks

NEW YORK — New York loves Stephen Curry. The media crowded around him before the game, asking what it was about Madison Square Garden that made him light up. Afterward, it was Stephen A. Smith congratulating him on another job well done.

Curry needed less than 30 minutes to notch a triple-double, and don’t forget that the timing of his performance one game after the Chicago setback certainly mattered.

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Steve Blake open to re-signing with Warriors for reserve role

NEW YORK — Warriors guard Steve Blake is impressed with the team one week after being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers and open to re-signing with Golden State as a free agent after the season.

“I can’t lie,” Blake said Friday. “I wonder where I’ll be next year. If I had the opportunity to be here, I would love it.

“I already knew from the outside that they were a special team. I didn’t realize what a great group of guys it was and how nice it is to play for Coach (Mark) Jackson. Those are all things that I’ll be looking for, for a place I’d like to finish off my career at.”

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Game 58 rewind: Warriors want to move on after getting routed by Bulls

CHICAGO — With the Warriors’ starters out of the game in the fourth quarter of a blowout, Bulls fans turned their attention to the assistant coach seated beside them. Brian Scalabrine, the former Bulls reserve, was the subject of chants late in the game just as he once was as a seldom-used player.

That’s how much of a laugher this game was, as the Warriors trailed by as many as 28 points and didn’t show much signs of life after taking punches from the more physical Bulls. A Warriors assistant coach became the punch line. Another assistant, Pete Myers, picked up a technical foul while showing some fire missing on the court.

And all coach Mark Jackson could do after the game was solemnly state that the Warriors would have to move forward after this one.

What else was there to say? Stephen Curry scored five points in his worst shooting performance of the season. The Warriors got sloppy with the ball and got dominated on the glass. No starter scored in double figures, as the unit combined for only 35 points.

“That’s the way we like it, taking players out of their game,” Bulls guard Jimmy Butler said of a job well done on Curry. “It is frustrating for them.”

The Warriors lost so badly that there was little to dwell on during the first part of a long road trip. They’re off to New York next and still 12 games over .500. There will be another day to shine.


Warriors’ Harrison Barnes found knowledge, motivation as name came up at trade deadline

CHICAGO — Warriors general manager Bob Myers spoke last week on KNBR about all the erroneous rumors leading up to the NBA’s trade deadline, noting, “I saw a ton of ‘They’re shopping (Harrison) Barnes.’”

Barnes, a second-year player, laughed on Wednesday while explaining that being young meant not fully understanding what was going on around him before the deadline. But the rumors did lead to the 21-year-old to learn from the front office what was really happening.

“It was nothing formal,” Barnes said. “They just told me obviously teams are inquiring, that’s pretty much it. I wasn’t really trying to like look through reports, figure out where I was going to go. I just wanted to try to focus on the games. Ultimately, that’s what matters most.”

And with the knowledge that other NBA teams were the ones initiating trade proposals, Barnes used it as motivation since it reflected how much better he could have been playing. This month, he improved by averaging 10.3 points and 4.4 rebounds off the bench, shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.

“You always want to find extra motivation, so the fact that your name was always floating out there, you always try to use that to get yourself going,” Barnes said.

“It focuses you in a little bit more, keeps you locked in on what you’re doing and doesn’t really allow you to let your mind wander. Obviously I’ve been playing better as of late, so I obviously want to continue to do that.”

A blockbuster deal that might have sent Barnes to another team didn’t materialize, so the Warriors have in place a highly-regarded piece for their future and present. Myers told the station Barnes was doing well in finding a balance between being a role player in need of playing longer stretches in order to get comfortable.

“Ultimate professional, probably the hardest-working guy on the team, so we have huge hopes for him, and we think he’s going to have a real high ceiling,” Myers said.


Game 57 rewind: Warriors feeling good after beating Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — This could be the start of the Warriors threatening to make a major move up the standings.

They’ve run in place at times. Busted a tire with some losses that shouldn’t have happened of late at home. But now at this stage in the season, the Warriors are 13 games over .500 and looking for more after a 104-96 win at The Palace.

There are positive vibes you sense when a locker room is going well. Andrew Bogut is back. The bench players are contributing. Jermaine O’Neal is playing like an All-Star.

“It’s a great win to kick off the six-game road trip,” O’Neal said.

Take away LeBron James’ devastating game-winning shot before the All-Star break, and this would have been six-game winning streak for Golden State as it looks to solidify its playoff position. The Warriors’ defense has won some of those on nights when Curry hasn’t had to score 30.

Steve Blake has shown he can contribute to the Warriors, hitting big shots and providing a dependable ball handler. And meanwhile, it’s apparent Jordan Crawford has been motivated after Blake’s arrival.

“I know if we come in and help the first unit, we have a good chance to win,” Crawford said.

From whomever is in Mark Jackson’s patchwork starting lineup given the injuries of late to the subs who combined to score 42 against Detroit, guys are feeling good about themselves as they should.


Game 56 Rewind: A grab bag of thoughts following a critical victory over the Nets

Good to be back with the Warriors, if only for a game, subbing for Diamond, as he gets an early jump on the six-game road trip. It may be my last fill-in assignment for awhile, as by the time they get back from this trip, I’ll be off to spring training for 12 days. But I’ll get some GSW down the stretch, and hopefully in the playoffs as well.

There were so many things to ponder following Saturday night’s 93-86 win over Brooklyn (I managed to cover two Nets games without calling them “New Jersey”), I’m going to go “darting here and there” on the blog tonight, just a bunch of quick hits on things that merit mention.

–Kevin Garnett wants a blood transfusion from Jermaine O’Neal. Awesome Garnett quote after the game following O’Neal’s 23-point, 13-rebound performance: “I haven’t seen J.O. play like that since Indiana. I’m glad he found the Fountain of Youth.”

–Without question, O’Neal was fabulous, but to score like he did, he got a lot of great feeds down low from Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Steve Blake. I framed a question to O’Neal after the game in that context and he was understandably appreciative. He said many of his baskets came in the wake of setting screens, just going to an open spot, and guys finding him open. A few times during the game on plays he made, I told those sitting around me, “Toney Douglas doesn’t make that pass.”

–A lot of people will call Curry’s huge banked 3-pointer with 37.2 seconds left lucky. He didn’t, and I wouldn’t. As he noted, he had proper balance and a solid follow-through, and said his momentum was simply carrying him left when he let the shot fly. Great shooters make their own luck.

–The Warriors are 12 games over .500 for the first time this season. Just going .500 over the final 26 games would give them 47 wins. That might not be enough in the crazy Western Conference. But if they go 16-10, they win 50. That’s definitely doable.

–David Lee must have spent some time in the hospital, or perhaps just an emergency room, after missing the game with the stomach flu. He posted this Instagram photo after the Warriors’ win, congratulating O’Neal and Draymond Green on their big performances. He’s really sucking the fluid out of that I.V. http://instagram.com/p/kv26V1EwOZ/

–Even though he had trouble defending Deron Williams, Steve Blake’s second game as a Warrior was better than his first. He made a couple of big 3-pointers down the stretch, and also had five assists, including some timely feeds to both O’Neal and Green. If Blake’s efforts result in just three wins over the final 26, it could be the difference in making the playoffs and not. I would contend his effort against the Nets counts as the first.

–You wonder what Green could do if he played 30-35 minutes a game. He was a somewhat ugly 5 for 16 shooting, but he had 10 rebounds, 3 steals and was part of the key deflection in the final minute that salted the game away. He’s had issues at the free throw line this year, but went 8 for 10 on this night and in the final three minutes, 6 for 6. The guy’s just a winner, pure and simple.

–Marreese Speights didn’t play in the second half. If you saw the first half, you know why. Pretty much awful. Jordan Crawford wasn’t much better, going playground and shooting 2 for 10. The bench was outscored 30-15 in the game, and Harrison Barnes was also a non-factor save one monster dunk. Hopefully on this road trip he develops some rapport with Blake when the subs come in.

–In two games against the Warriors, Andray Blatche has looked something akin to an All-Star.

–Iguodala won’t get much run what with O’Neal and Green grabbing the spotlight, but he was pretty special on this night — eight points, eight assists, 11 rebounds, four steals. This is what the Warriors paid all those millions for, and he also played 44 minutes. If he plays like this down the stretch, 16-10 to get to 50 wins won’t be a problem.

–Green noted it was special getting this win against a team that has three future Hall of Famers in Paul Pierce, Garnett and Joe Johnson. He threw in “and maybe Kirilenko.” Sorry, Draymond. Maybe Deron Williams, but not Kirilenko.

–Curry, who went into the All-Star Break averaging more than four turnovers a game — worst in the NBA — has four turnovers in three games since the break — 0 against Sacto, 2 against Houston, 2 against the Nets. He said during the morning shootaround he’s analyzed where he’s making most of his turnovers — he’s trying not to make a play before it develops and he’s not leaving his feet when he passes. It seems to be working.

–You want to know why the Warriors want to move to San Francisco, you only had to be at the Coliseum grounds Saturday night. A monster truck jam was held at the stadium, and most of that one-time crowd arrived before the Warriors fans who show up every game. Hence, a lot of Warriors fans got shut out on parking spaces, and the lower bowl of the arena was filled with empties throughout the first half and it only got slightly better in the second half. So why couldn’t they have scheduled the truck jam for Friday night? If I’m Joe Lacob, I’m raising holy hell.

–Well, I could go on and on, as I am wont to do following an exciting, important win in any sport. And what the Warriors achieved Saturday night definitely was. Curry said afterward the Warriors simply can’t throw away any more home games, hence the Houston/New Jersey double was huge for the team’s position and confidence heading into this six-game trip. If they handle this upcoming six-gamer like the last seven-gamer (6-1), they’ll be in the clover for the playoffs. A 4-2 roadie would be great, 3-3 just fine. After this trip, the Warriors will have 13 home games left, just 7 on the road.

And speaking of the road, time to hit it. Pleasure serving you.

Twitter: @stewardsfolly


Game 55 rewind: Warriors’ Jermaine O’Neal turns back clock with game-saving block

OAKLAND — Look into the eyes of Jermaine O’Neal after his game-saving block, and the stare says everything.

O’Neal did not gesture after stuffing Chandler Parsons. Nor did he shout immediately after the play. He just looked into seemingly into the crowd, soaking up the moment.

This hasn’t been O’Neal’s easiest year. He came to Golden State in hopes of competing for a championship. Wrist surgery sidetracked his season for weeks, and he could only say so much as a leader while not on the court himself.

Look at O’Neal now, and what you saw was a 35-year-old playing 37 minutes and grabbing 10 rebounds on the second night of a back-to-back in place of an injured Andrew Bogut.

“At this point in my career, it’s about trying to get some wins,” O’Neal said.

“I get paid to do my job, and I don’t look at it any other way.”

This one meant more, with the 18-year veteran getting a chance to start against All-Star Dwight Howard and getting the best of him on defense. Stephen Curry said O’Neal in fact let others around him know he’d be ready for the challenge, and O’Neal was true to his word.

“That was one of our better wins of the year based on how we won,” O’Neal said.