Warriors

Curry misses Ellie Mae Classic cut, but win-win with second straight 74

Curry misses Ellie Mae Classic cut, but win-win with second straight 74

AKRON, Ohio – This week Firestone Country Club is the gathering place for 49 of the world’s top 50 players. All four reigning major champions are here, as are dozens of other elite names, all with accomplished backgrounds.

It’s an exclusive field with a lucrative purse to match, and it’s the final opportunity for guys to hone their craft before heading to the season’s final major.

And yet, despite all of the pedigree that accompanies the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the biggest story in golf this week revolves around an amateur who will miss the cut 2,500 miles away.

Any questions over the merits of Steph Curry’s unrestricted sponsor exemption into this week’s Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.com Tour were roundly silenced by his opening-round 74 that exceeded all expectations. What had the potential to become a cringe-worthy spectacle instead captivated a hefty amount of attention.

The crossover potential was fully realized as Curry had golf fans and non-golf fans alike buzzing about his round on a developmental circuit that some likely had never heard of before.

In essence, the grand experiment worked.

It also got the attention of several of the PGA Tour’s biggest names.

“To be honest, I think it’s pretty special for a two-time MVP to be able to shoot 74 at a pro event and beat other pros,” said Jason Day. “I mean, we play our whole lives and the guy plays basketball and he beats some of the pros. It’s very impressive to see.”

Curry’s inclusion in the field initially drew some resistance, including from professionals who felt he was taking a spot from someone who could better put it to use to pursue his livelihood. But the Web.com field archives show that the “unrestricted” sponsor invites – of which each tournament receives two – often go to players who have no true aspirations of competing week in and week out on Tour.

The other unrestricted spot this week in California went to Colt McNealy, the teenage brother of top-ranked amateur Maverick McNealy, who took top honors in an 18-hole qualifier. The spots simply serve as a tool by which the tournament can bolster its profile, whether by investing in a budding young player or bringing in new fans by the truckload thanks to a certain NBA star.

After a second straight 74, Curry won’t be around for the weekend, and he’ll beat only a handful of players. But his ability to hold his own in a sport he considers a hobby was not lost on those who play it as a job.

“It’s so rare to have a player in another sport of that caliber playing during his career,” said Brendan Steele. “Like, he’s in the prime of his career in the other sport. That’s what I think is so cool about it. There are plenty of guys that will want to play the PGA Tour, Web.com after they’re done and they get to practice for five years or whatever. But he’s in the prime of his career.”

Curry’s effort around TPC Stonebrae had its rocky moments, but he also produced a handful of highlights including a lengthy birdie make after which he channeled Jordan Spieth’s memorable Open exchange by directing his caddie to retrieve the ball from the hole.

READ MORE AT GolfChannel.com

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

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USATSI

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Kevin Durant doesn't take it easy on anyone. Not even the children of teammate Zaza Pachulia.

After practice on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pachulia's two sons, Davit and Saba, were playing one-on-one at the facility the Warriors were using. Kevin Durant filmed one sequence and posted it to his Instagram Story.

One of Pachulia's sons grabbed the ball and drives around the other without dribbling. As he makes the shot, Durant offers his commentary and took a shot at the Warriors starting center.

"That's a travel. Such a travel. Same thing your pops do," Durant said, taking a shot at Pachulia.

Durant also had another message for Pachulia written on the video.

"Yo, @zazapachulia at some you have to teach the boys how to play off the bounce," Durant wrote.

Gameday: Warriors limited Embiid, Simmons once; Can they do it again?

Gameday: Warriors limited Embiid, Simmons once; Can they do it again?

After losing the biggest test of the season thus far, the Warriors will try to get back to winning Saturday, when they face the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 3:30, with tipoff scheduled for 4:35.

The Warriors (11-4), who are coming off their first loss in eight games, a 92-88 defeat at Boston on Thursday, laid a 135-114 beating on the 76ers one week ago in Oakland. They shot a season-high 58.5 percent from the field, including 51.9 percent beyond the arc.

The Sixers (8-6) started the season by losing four of their first five games but have recovered nicely, winning seven of their last nine. They rebounded from the loss to the Warriors by sweeping the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles earlier this week.

BETTING LINE:
Warriors by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Draymond Green and Co. vs. Joel Embiid: The Warriors used a tag-team effort to lock down the Philadelphia big man last week, holding Embiid to 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and seven rebounds while forcing seven turnovers. It was a lesson in team defense, and they’ll try to repeat that performance. No fewer than five Warriors -- Zaza Pachulia, Kevin Durant, JaVale McGee, David West and Green -- will get chances to defend Embiid, who responded to a poor game in Oakland by combining for 87 points and 31 rebounds in torching the Clippers and the Lakers in LA.

INJURY REPORT:
Warriors: No injuries listed. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (L wrist bruise) is listed as questionable. G/F Justin Anderson (L shin splints), G Markelle Fultz (right shoulder scapular muscle imbalance) and G Nik Stauskas (R ankle sprain) are listed as out.

GAME OFFICIALS:
Tony Brothers (crew chief), Bennie Adams and Lauren Holtkamp.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Warriors have won the last nine meetings overall, the last four in Philadelphia. Their last loss in Philadelphia was on March 2, 2013.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
WHAT ABOUT STEPH? Stephen Curry has fallen into a bit of a shooting rut, and it’s not necessarily related to the thigh bruise sustained last Saturday against 76ers. He is 20-of-61 (32.8 percent) from the field, including 9-of-33 (27.3) from deep, over his last four games; he was 34-of-58 (58.6) and 18-of-32 (56.3) in the four games before that. He’ll get opportunities against the Philly defense. Can he snap out of it?

I-N-T-E-N-S-I-T-Y SPELLS INTENSITY: The Warriors are have a tough time shaking the habit of strolling through too many parts of games. After a first half in which they committed 13 turnovers and allowed Philly to shoot 52 percent, the Warriors last week used a third-quarter barrage to put the game away. After being freshly burned in Boston, expect them to bring some early fire, trying to bury the Sixers early and totally.

BEN SIMMONS PT. II: In sending a variety of defenders at the 6-foot-10 point guard, the Warriors kept Simmons off balance and turned him into a volume shooter. He took 17 shots, his second-highest total of the season, and made six. There is no reason to expect a substantial change, and this time the Warriors will add Andre Iguodala into the defensive mix.