Attack-mode Curry makes statement vs Blazers: 'Should've had 45 or 50'

Attack-mode Curry makes statement vs Blazers: 'Should've had 45 or 50'

OAKLAND -- The sequence of the night, without question, belonged to Kevin Durant, who in eight exquisite seconds managed to showcase his two-way impact.

The loudest statement made by the Warriors in a 125-117 win over Portland, however, was that conveyed by Stephen Curry, who for most of his 36 minutes on the floor looked like the guy with which the NBA has become familiar.

The guy who won back-to-back MVP awards.

Curry attacked early, with a comprehensively strong first quarter (9 points, four rebounds, four assists), and then came back in the second half to do most of the offensive heavy lifting that kept the plucky Trail Blazers at bay.

He totaled 35 points on 12-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-13 beyond the arc, but also added seven rebounds and five assists. Curry was not perfect (five turnovers, utterly shocking back-to-back misses at the free throw line), but he was forceful and productive.

When Curry brings that combination -- along with the bounty delivered by Durant -- the Warriors are nearly impossible to beat.

“Tonight, he was amazing,” Durant said. “He should’ve had 45 or 50; he missed some easy ones. But for the most part, 25 looks, I’m living with it. Five turnovers? That shows that he’s being aggressive. In order for us to get where we need to go, we need him to do that. And everybody is going to follow suit. He’s going to open it up for everybody.”

The 25 shots are the second most this season for Curry. Such assertiveness is something his teammates seem to have been urging of him.

“At some points in the game,” Draymond Green said, “I was like, ‘Yo, shoot that.’ There’s not like texts or side conversations where it’s like, ‘Shoot the ball.’ He knows to shoot. Everybody makes a big deal of him not taking a lot of shots in certain games or here and there. He’s a smart player. He plays within the flow of the game. Tonight he took 25 shots. I don’t think it was because someone went up to him and said, ‘Hey Steph, shoot the ball tonight.’ “

The Warriors didn’t create much separation until the third quarter, when an 11-0 run turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead at 81-74 on a dazzling reverse layup by Curry with 8:18 left in the quarter. He scored 12 points in the quarter.

For perspective, Portland’s starting lineup scored 11 points in the quarter. So, yes, Curry was looking for his shot while also being mindful of his teammates.

“I’m not going to fall into temptation of abandoning what makes us successful just to say I shot more,” Curry said. “I have to be aggressive and not turn down shots that I usually take and make. The way we’ve been flowing and especially down the stretch, you have to be able to rise up for those kinds of moments. So it’s a little bit of both.”

Seeing Curry in attack mode is, to be sure, a welcome sight for the Warriors and their fans, some of which are still trying to shake Curry’s languid performance in the marquee game at Cleveland on Christmas Day.

“I’m not going to overreact because he’s not getting 40 every night,” said Durant, who scored 30 points. “I just told him to be aggressive. Don’t even worry about anything else. If you’ve got a big guy on you, go to work. That’s what we want you to do, especially me. It’s fun when he gets everybody else going, when he’s aggressive.”

Which brings us to Durant and his sequence, in which his own aggression provided more fun for the sellout crowd than anything Curry or anyone else did.

The Blazers were seeking the go-ahead basket late in the first quarter, and CJ McCollum went up for a layup. Durant blocked it. The rebound went to power forward Noah Vonleh, who took it right back up, only to be rejected by Durant.

Two blocks in three seconds, with the ball going to Andre Iguodala and Durant sprinting ahead on the right wing. Iguodala took four dribbles and zipped a pass to Durant just beyond the 3-point stripe. Bucket.

“It just ignites the crowd and ignites our offense and sends a message to the other team,” Curry said of Durant. “It just brings another level of energy.”

There was no shortage of energy. Not from Durant and certainly not from Curry. It was, in the end, too much for the Blazers.

Curry's injury all but assures Cook's spot on playoff roster

Curry's injury all but assures Cook's spot on playoff roster

OAKLAND -- Welcome to the NBA playoffs, Quinn Cook.

Any question about whether the Warriors would add Cook to their postseason roster was clarified Saturday when an MRI test on Stephen Curry’s left knee revealed a Grade 2 MCL sprain.

Curry will be reevaluated in three weeks, which coincides with the beginning of the playoffs. It’s conceivable he will be out six weeks, in which case he would miss the entire first round and, should the Warriors advance, part of the second round.

The Warriors wouldn’t dare go into the playoffs with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry for four seasons, as the only designated point guard on the roster.

So the defending champs will turn to Cook, who was waived by lowly Atlanta last Oct. 13, four days later signed a two-way contract with the Warriors, and spent most of the past five months toiling away with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Cook’s value has been rising in recent weeks, though, as he has proved capable of producing at the NBA level. He’s the only member of the Warriors to score in double figures in each of the last five games, averaging 19.8 points, on 55.7-percent shooting, including 50 percent from deep, during that stretch.

He’s not Curry -- nobody is -- but Cook has been a terrific fill-in.

“We all love him,” Kerr said. “He’s a wonderful teammate. He’s not only a hell of a player, but the gets it. He’s a worker. He brings this great life and intelligence to the group, so he’s a big part of what we’re doing.”

Neither Kerr nor general manager Bob Myers has given any indication if they plan to add Cook to the roster. For Cook to be eligible for the postseason, the Warriors must pull him off his two-way deal and sign him to a standard NBA contract by April 11. The playoff roster must be submitted to the league by noon on April 13.

Under no circumstances can Cook be added without one of the 15 players currently under an NBA contact being released.

Meanwhile, Kerr and Myers have given every indication that they love, love, love the way Cook has responded to a need in the absence of Curry.

“He’s been great,” Myers told 95.7 FM The Game this week. “He’s been great all year, with the G-League as well. We actually targeted him as our two-way guys.”

Myers added another line that is significant: “It’s hard to find fault with Quinn as a human being.”

That testimony to Cook’s character matters because the Warriors are big on having players that fit into their culture. Cook, who turned 25 on Friday, has been a seamless fit.

Cook, for his part, credits at least a part of his success to the tutelage of Curry. The two became acquainted back in 2011, when Cook was a freshman at Duke and Seth Curry was a junior. Due to the lockout, the NBA season didn’t start until December, allowing Stephen Curry some time to hang around the college.

“It’s not like you’re always seeking him,” Cook said. “He seeks you. He knows that we all want to learn. He knows that he is where we want to get to, individually.

“When I got here, he took me under his wing. We developed a great relationship before, but now it’s even greater.”

Curry spends time going over game plans with Cook. They talk strategy. It’s an example of Curry’s leadership that he donates himself to a player who was signed mostly to play in the G-League and be available, if needed, for NBA games.

It’s too much to ask Cook to mimic Curry. It’s not too much to believe Cook can help the Warriors in the postseason, even if Curry is healthy.

With Curry out, and Livingston always on a minutes restriction -- any more than the mid-20s is a danger zone -- Cook is essential.

Curry out at least three weeks with Grade 2 MCL sprain

Curry out at least three weeks with Grade 2 MCL sprain

Stephen Curry will be reevaluated in three weeks after an MRI on Saturday revealed that the Warriors point guard suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his left MCL, the Warriors announced on Saturday. 

Curry sprained his left MCL with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter of Friday night's win over the Atlanta Hawks. Teammate JaVale McGee landed awkwardly on the two-time MVP's left leg, and Curry limped to the bench. He then headed to the locker room where he received further treatment, and did not return. 

Curry has missed 21 of the team’s 71 games this season. Before Friday, he missed the previous six games after spraining his right ankle against the San Antonio Spurs on March 2. 

Back-to-back ankle and knee injuries previously dogged Curry in the 2016 postseason. In his first game back from a right ankle sprain in the first round against the Houston Rockets, Curry suffered a Grade 1 right MCL sprain, and missed the next four games.