Rewind: Warriors' explosive offense saves defensive letdown

Rewind: Warriors' explosive offense saves defensive letdown

OAKLAND – The Warriors reacted to this victory without even a modicum of celebration. Even in triumph, they rather scolded themselves.

And rightly so, since their performance in a 133-120 outlasting of the pesky Phoenix Suns on Sunday looked not at all like the blueprint the Warriors have drawn up for themselves.

They’ve designed their roster around having the offense follow the lead of the defense. The defense on this night, with two brief but significant exceptions, provided no direction or even influence. So the offense came up with season-highs for points (133) and points in a half (71 in the second).

“If you’re trying to win a championship, you don’t do that by simply outscoring people,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said

“Today was one of those games where it’s like . . . it’s a letdown game,” forward Draymond Green said.

“That’s human nature to try and make excuses for what you shouldn’t focus on this or focus on that,” Stephen Curry said. “We have to kind of overcome that.”

Yet the Warriors still won, following a 27-9 closing burst to put away a Suns team that for most of the night did a wonderful job of fighting through fatigue resulting from having completed a game 22 hours earlier in Phoenix.

“Give the Suns credit; they are a well-coached and very young and talented team,” Thompson said. "But if we want to get where we need to go, we have to pick it up on that side of the ball.”

[WATCH: Top plays from Warriors' 133-120 win over the Suns]

The second half featured a couple defensive highlights that – even on a night when Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Curry combine for 89 points – provided graphic illustration of the importance of that element for the Warriors.

One, there was the third-quarter sequence with Durant chasing down Suns guard Devin Booker for a spectacular block at the rim, sending a jolt of electricity through Oracle Arena and leading directly to a Curry 3-pointer in transition.

There was another Durant block, this time of Suns guard Eric Bledsoe with the Warriors up 126-117 and 1:46 remaining in the game that pretty much put Phoenix to sleep.

“There was a point when we made a couple stops,” Curry said. “Draymond got really aggressive on the ball, Pat (McCaw) and KD made those blocks that got the crowd into it and got us easy transition buckets.

“We showed we obviously have the right personnel and matchups to get stops, but we didn’t start the game off that way.”

Even as the Warriors blocked seven shots, with Durant, Green and McCaw each rejecting two, the Suns kept coming. They shot at least 50 percent in every quarter against a Warriors defense that generally was lackadaisical and often without effective communication.

It wasn’t enough to negate the offense supplied by Curry, Thompson and Durant. Curry and Thompson each totaled 30 points, and Durant finished with 29. The offense combined with just enough defense, at precisely the right moments, to power the Warriors to their fourth consecutive win – and their franchise-best ninth consecutive win over the Suns.

All of which provided a little more than relief to a Warriors team that had to come back from a five-point deficit (111-106) with 6:15 remaining.

“Good way to close, but a lot to work on defensively,” Kerr said.

“Honestly, I think this was our first game day at home without a shootaround, so it’s different from our routine,” Curry said. “Maybe our engines weren’t revved up enough before the game.

“It was a good learning experience, because it won’t be the last time.”

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

OAKLAND -- The words came dribbling out slowly, ruefully and with more than a trace of despair.

JaVale McGee, the 7-foot accidental villain, could barely speak about his role Friday night in the moment that left the Warriors pleading for mercy while their fans were screaming at the sky.

Stephen Curry, returning to the lineup after a six-game absence due to a right ankle sprain, lasted 25 minutes before sustaining another injury, this one a sprain to his left MCL. The two-time MVP will undergo an MRI test Saturday.

“I pray to God,” McGee said, “that nothing’s wrong with him.”

The injury occurred with 3:09 left in the third quarter. After biting on a pump fake by Atlanta forward Mike Muscala, McGee wound up tumbling backward, with his 270 pounds landing directly at the front Curry legs. Curry immediately started limping away, with the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena gasping in horror.

“I was trying to block a shot,” McGee said beneath a vacant stare, “and I ran into him.”

That’s the kind of month it has been for the Warriors. All four of their All-Stars have been knocked out of action by an array of injuries.

Curry went down March 8 after tweaking his surgically repaired right ankle. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were injured March 11 at Minnesota, Durant sustaining a rib cartilage injury after taking a elbow from 7-foot Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and Thompson spraining his right thumb after making contact with Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague.

Draymond Green began the next week as the team’s only healthy All-Star, a distinction that lasted eight days before he was struck down with a pelvic contusion Monday night in San Antonio.

“It’s like a juju or something on us,” McGee said. “I’ve never been part of a team where everybody just got injured, especially the starters. It’s kind of scary to tell the truth.”

Durant, Thompson and Green were unavailable Friday night, which is why Curry’s return was so encouraging. After a 2-point first quarter during which he went 1-of-6 from the floor, Curry found his stroke and over his next 16 minutes scored 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Then came the most frightening moment of the night, throwing a massive damper on a 106-94 victory.

“I assumed it was his ankle when he came out hobbling and I found it was his knee,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We will see what the MRI says tomorrow.

“There is not a whole lot we can do or predict. It’s kind of a strange, cruel twist of fate. He rehabs his ankle for the last couple of weeks and gets that strong and the knee goes. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed.”

The Warriors came out of the All-Star break fairly healthy and ready to make a run at the No. 1 overall seed. They’ve achieved it in each of the last three seasons, coming away with two championships.

Hopes of getting there this season have disappeared under a pile of injuries, all of them coming over the last 16 days. As of late Friday night, there was no knowing how serious Curry’s injury is, or how long he might be out.

What’s known is that it was another in a succession of frightful moments.

“It’s a little somber in there,” Kerr said of the locker room. “Everybody feels for Steph. But it’s more a case of just keep going and keep pushing forward. We’ll come into tomorrow, short practice and get ready for Utah.”

That’s at the request of the schedule. That’s a dose of NBA reality on a grim night.

McGee didn’t seem ready for that. He was feeling awful about the entire episode.

“I can’t describe it,” he said of the play that followed everyone into the night. “Everybody has a TV. I fell into him and . . . I know y’all (reporters) don’t think I’m standing here like, ‘Yes, I fell into him.’

“That’s a star player. Of course, we don’t want him to be injured, especially after he came back. So I feel very bad for the fact that I was a part of that.”

McGee said he hopes Curry is out no more than a couple games.

The Warriors would be ever so pleased if it’s a couple weeks. They want to be whole for the postseason,, the only season by which they will be measured and a season that, on this night, nobody was of a mood to visualize.

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry lasted 25 minutes Friday night before limping out of another game.

He was diagnosed with a sprained left MCL and did not return after sustaining the injury.

Curry came up limping after center JaVale McGee, leaping for a rebound, tumbled backward into his lower legs with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter of the Warriors-Hawks game at Oracle Arena.

Immediately, the sellout crowd let out a collective groan.

Curry, his face a mask of dejection, headed for the bench, where he was examined by Warriors physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane. The two then headed into the locker room.

Curry scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before leaving the game. This was his first appearance since March 8, when he tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle, causing him to miss six games.

Curry has missed 21 of the team’s 71 games. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and his status beyond that is yet to be determined. 

This story is being updated.