Monte Poole

Why Steph Curry can never, ever chuck his mouthpiece again

Why Steph Curry can never, ever chuck his mouthpiece again

Stephen Curry knows he asked for this one. Begged for it. Wanted it so bad he not only ripped his mouthpiece out of his face but also wound up and fired it in the direction of a game official.

He has to be, and likely is, pleased that the NBA wanted nothing more than a $50,000 bite out of his newly fortified paycheck.

“It was a dumb thing to do. Stupid,” he said after shootaround Monday morning. “Learn from it and try to move on and be better.”

It was not nearly enough for the league that Curry apologized immediately after the mouthpiece-tossing incident that got him tossed in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 111-101 loss to the Grizzlies on Saturday. Apologies don’t carry much weight in these matters and they are entirely weightless when it’s a second offense.

And that’s what this was, as you may recall Curry flinging his mouthpiece late in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He was tossed from that game, too.

Of more importance, and what Curry has to take away from this is that he can’t afford another offense. Ever. Though he surely can afford it monetarily, it would rob the Warriors of their offensive catalyst.

Throwing a mouthpiece once is a forgivable mistake. Doing it twice is a relapse that some may forgive while others definitely will not. Doing it three or more times falls into the selfish category, even if selfishness is not a characteristic fairly applied to the two-time MVP.

It’s conceivable that no one in the NBA gets pushed and grabbed and knocked around as much, without a whistle, as does Curry. Part of this is on him, for not being better at selling calls. Part of it is on officials who typically use a different standard for him than those usually set for MVP-caliber players.

Through it all, and it has gone on for years, Curry rarely says a peep. He plays on, simmering, but staying on task.

“I think people on the outside automatically think that these guys can control everything and be robots and score 35 and be perfectly composed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday morning. “But they’re all human beings, just like the rest of us. There’s going to be times where you lose your mind. There’s going to be times where you get angry and times where you’re in perfect mental and you’re playing at a high level and everything is under control.

But nobody can keep that level 100 percent of the time.”

Curry’s actions Saturday in Memphis were only partly the result of the officiating. The Warriors were losing, again. Curry was committing silly fouls, again. It was a buildup of unfavorable events and he lost it.

“We were playing terrible,” Curry said Monday morning. “I was frustrated because I was fouling. I thought I got fouled on the last play. The reaction was definitely a little over the top.

“Stuff happens. I’m going to try to continue to be myself and show some fire, but do it in a way that doesn’t take away from the team and misrepresent who I am.”

Curry said Monday that he didn’t bother to review his actions because he knew how unbecoming they were. He also expressed regret about lashing out. There was no need to brace for the fine he knew was coming.

Next time, though it won’t be a fine that will take a fraction of his check. Next time, it’ll be a suspension that will take away a piece of the Warriors.

Gameday: Klay aims for sole possession of longest active 3-point streak

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USATI

Gameday: Klay aims for sole possession of longest active 3-point streak

Programming note: Warriors-Mavs coverage starts today at 4:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area.

As anxieties swirl about the Warriors in the wake of a 1-2 start, the defending champions will try to quiet outside concerns Monday when they meet the Mavericks at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The sound of soft alarms is a response to this season being the first time since 2009-10 that the Warriors opened by losing two of their first three games.

The Mavericks (0-3) are beyond their glory days -- they missed the playoffs season for only the second time in the past 17 years -- they are not yet in full rebuild, as 39-year-old Dirk Nowitzki remains in the starting lineup.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 12

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kevin Durant/Draymond Green vs. Harrison Barnes: The Mavs signed Barnes to a four-year deal worth $94 million to be one of their building blocks for the future. He led them in scoring (19.2 per game) last season, his first in Dallas. The Barnes departure from the Warriors opened the door to Durant, who became the NBA Finals MVP. Both Durant and Green have chances at Barnes. The Warriors took Barnes and Green in the same 2012 draft, and Green will never forget he was taken 28 picks later. It is safe to presume Barnes will have to work for everything he gets.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Omri Casspi (L ankle sprain) is listed as probable but is expected to be available.

Mavericks: G Devin Harris (personal reasons) and G Dennis Smith (L knee swelling) are listed as questionable. G Seth Curry (L tibial stress fracture) and F Josh McRoberts (R knee soreness) are listed as out.

RECENT SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors swept the three-game series last season, have won the last seven meetings and 13 of the last 14.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

EARLY D: After losing to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday, several Warriors expressed dissatisfaction with their early-game defensive intensity. They’ve faced double-digit deficits in the first half of their last two games, though they were able to come back and win in New Orleans. They probably could get away with it in Dallas, but it’s an unhealthy habit.

SMALL ON SMALL: Though the Warriors utilize small lineups for significant portions of games, the Mavericks go small for most of every game. That’s a product of starting former Nowitzki at center and generally subbing him with young power forwards Nerlens Noel and Dwight Powell. In question is whether Warriors quickness can take control despite the length of the Mavericks.

STREAKING KLAY: A 3-pointer in Monday would give Klay Thompson the 58th consecutive game he has made at least one triple and would give him the longest active streak. He currently is tied with injured Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas, each with 57 games in a row.

QUOTABLE

“I want to play tonight. I don’t think a suspension is necessary. I’m pretty sure, based on the precedent that was set the last time I threw a mouthpiece, there would be a fine. But I hope to be out there playing tonight.” --Warriors G Stephen Curry on the possibility of NBA-dictated discipline after throwing his mouthpiece in the loss to the Grizzlies.

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

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What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

It’s much too early to get legitimately nervous, much less start tumbling into a panic.

The Warriors are going to be fine.

Eventually.

They most certainly are not yet what they will become in about two weeks, when they settle in for a four-game homestand that begins Nov. 6. That’s 10 games into the season, and it’s conceivable the Warriors might be 6-4.

After a 111-101 loss to the ever-tenacious Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis, the Warriors are 1-2 and, by their lofty standard, looking about as lost as a stray cat in a hurricane.

“We’re obviously not ready. We knew that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re not ready to put together a full effort. And I’m not doing a great job of putting together combinations, finding the right motivation to get guys going, to get some joy and laughter in here.

“It’s just one of those rough patches. And, hopefully, we can climb our way out of it. I’m sure we will. It may take some time.”

It will take some time, and of that there is plenty.

Do not blame this lull entirely on China, not when there is so much more. The Warriors are coming off their third consecutive prolonged season, this one followed by the training camp disruption caused by spending eight days in Oakland, eight days in China, followed by eight days in Oakland leading up to opening night.

It’s easy to see the timing is off on an offense that relies on precision. The spacing is off on an offense that requires room to operate. The energy is lacking on a defense that lapses into ordinary without its bedrock intensity. Both body and spirit appear less than peak.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Kevin Durant told reporters at FedEx Forum, “but I think we’ve got to take it up a level.

“We’ll be fine. It’s 79 more games left. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

Understand, a team that won an NBA-best 67 games last season and posted a league-record 16-1 postseason doesn’t lose it because opponents load up. When the Warriors are on their game, opponents don’t matter.

For now, though, there is an individual listlessness that results in collective slumber. Stephen Curry has gambled himself in foul trouble in both losses and was booted in Memphis. Andre Iguodala missed an entire game and Draymond Green missed the fourth quarter of the first loss, a game in which the Warriors gave up a 13-point lead over the final 12 minutes.

And Durant’s 4.6 blocks per game is impressive. It also happens to be offset by his 6.3 turnovers per game.

“That’s on me,” he said. “I’m turning the ball over at a high rate right now. I’m really pissed at myself about it. I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. Just make the correct pass. I think I’m just rushing. I just need to calm down, settle down, and that would ignite the whole team. But if I turn the ball over, that’s contagious.”

The Rockets turned 17 Warriors giveaways into 21 points. The Pelicans turned 14 into 20. The Grizzlies turned 17 into 24.

Asked what has to change, Klay Thompson went to exactly the right place, saying “probably our defensive intensity from the jump.”

That’s where it starts, at least on the court. Meanwhile, there is more video work, more group texts about details and the need for more time for their bodies and minds to become one.

“We’ll be better,” Durant said. “We’re still finding a groove with each other. We’re still getting back into shape as far as playing our game, the flow, just the reads off not calling plays. We’ve got to get used to that again.”

Thompson is, however, displaying a modicum of impatience.

“We’ll come out Monday and we’ll play a great game,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

He’s probably right. The Warriors will be playing at Dallas, against a Mavericks team that is built to be devoured by the powerful.

That might be a quick fix. But it won’t be the final fix. That is weeks away.