Rewind: Curry carries Warriors, who are still trying to find their groove

Rewind: Curry carries Warriors, who are still trying to find their groove

OAKLAND – If not for Stephen Curry painting the proceedings with an eye-catching shade of individual magnificence, it surely would have been among the most forgettable victories of the season for the Warriors.

They blew a 21-point second-quarter lead, to the wounded and winless Pelicans.

The Warriors snoozed through nearly the entire third quarter and allowed New Orleans to shoot nearly 70 percent in the fourth.

They were outrebounded, and both outshot and outscored in the paint.

They won anyway, 116-106, because they didn’t torture themselves with turnovers, because their opponent was the Pelicans, who haven’t won since last season, and because they had Curry.

“He was really carrying us, obviously, as we were trying to find some footing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Curry, who drained an NBA record 13 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 46 points.

Among the starters, Draymond Green best complimented Curry. Green scored only four points, but he contributed 12 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and two steals. He also was primarily responsible for keeping Pelicans star Anthony Davis (33 points) from putting his stamp on the game.

As for the rest of the Warriors, it ranged from the pedestrian to the unsatisfying.

Kevin Durant’s night (22 points, five assists, three rebounds) didn’t measure up to his usual production. Starting center Zaza Pachulia looked tentative and slow and posted a minus-14 line in only 11 minutes. Klay Thompson’s wayward 3-point shot is looking only slightly more familiar.

“I threw a couple turnovers trying to make plays when I should have been more aggressive,” Durant said, who committed four giveaways.

“I thought he passed up a couple shots early and he tried to make passes that weren’t there and it resulted in turnovers,” Kerr said of Durant. “I don’t want him passing up shots. I want Kevin shooting anytime he’s open. I want him to be aggressive.”

Durant’s occasional hesitancy is just another indication that the offense continues to evolve. The assist-to-turnover rate was quite good, 35-15, indicating sharp passing that led to easy buckets. The Warriors shot 50 percent, only slightly better than New Orleans but used their 3-point shooting advantage to tuck away the win.

“I like 35 assists,” Kerr said. “It’s a good number and that’s a great sign considering we aren’t all on the same page. We’re still trying to find our groove. It was a good win. We’ll get better from this.”

The defense came and went, allowing the Pelicans, still missing three injured starters, to stick around and make a game of it for most of the night.

“Overall tonight it was OK,” Green said. “It could be better, which I think it can be better just about every night.”

It was enough to put the Warriors back in the win column, lifting their record to 5-2, but was yet another reminder that this team has weeks to go before it can realistically begin approaching its peak.

“We’ve got to do a better job of putting it all together,” Kerr said. “But a lot of good stuff, and we’ll build on it.”

Which, under the circumstances, is the way it should be. The Warriors have 75 games remaining on the schedule and the only season by which they’ll be measured – the postseason – doesn’t begin for another five months

That’s what makes nights like this tolerable.

Well, that and Steph Curry at his mesmerizing, artistic best.

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller