Curry officially in the Steph Zone: Give him the ball

Curry officially in the Steph Zone: Give him the ball

OAKLAND -- There are times when he needs only one clean splash to know where he is headed and for teammates and opponents to know what’s coming.

And don’t let him drain two in a row.

That’s when it’s popcorn time for the Warriors and their fans -- and sheer dread for the opposition.

That’s where Stephen Curry is right now, both feet planted in the Steph Zone. Two games into these Western Conference Finals, the Warriors are up 2-0 and Curry’s shots are falling from all over the court, drenching the Spurs while turning Oracle Arena into his personal cheering section.

“To see him knock down those shots and play with that aggression, and it's definitely better for us and better for the rest of the guys in the group as well,” Kevin Durant said Tuesday night, after Curry scored a game-high 29 points on 13 shots in a 136-100 rout. “He's shooting from two, three feet behind the 3-point line. Man, that's impressive. It's definitely been fun to watch.”

Since going 6-for-20 on May 6 in Game 3 of the conference semifinals at Utah, Curry is averaging 33.0 points on 57.4-percent shooting, including 48.6 percent from deep.

The Warriors are halfway to the NBA Finals largely because he has torched San Antonio for 69 points in 70 minutes, shooting 56.4 percent (22-of-39) from the field and 52 percent (13-of-25) beyond the arc.

Now, this is Gregg Popovich and San Antonio we’re talking about, the team that historically takes pride in not allowing 3-point specialists to get comfortable beyond the arc. Non-shooters can launch all they like, but the Spurs crowd shooters such as Curry. They chase and they close out and anything less means an earful of Pop.

They’ve so far mostly failed to meet that demand when it comes to Curry, and it hasn’t mattered much even when they’re in the immediate vicinity.

Asked about his recent play, Curry cited the challenge of the postseason.

“This is playoff time, and if you're not excited and don't get that adrenaline rush and get locked into the moment, you're going to miss out,” he said. “So, thankfully, I'm playing well, playing aggressive and confident, shots going in, trying to be locked in in every other aspect of the game too.”

The Warriors talked of avoiding a repeat of Game 1, in which a sluggish and sloppy first quarter dropped them into a 30-16 hole that forced them come together and fight for the victory. Curry scored 19 points in the third quarter, igniting the comeback.

He made sure Game 2 would be different, coming out in the first quarter and scoring 15 points. The Spurs, stifled by nasty Warriors defense, had 16.

“Stephen Curry has been doing a great job of really setting a tone, shooting the ball, being aggressive, attacking, him and Kevin,” Shaun Livingston said. “We just kind of follow suit.”

That’s the thing about Curry and 3-balls. When they start dropping, it becomes an almost tangible thing, certainly to the other team. Defenses get wrecked, inevitably leading to a sense of despair.

“I’ve been on the other end of it and it’s not fun,” Brown said. “You’re frightened to death to begin with, and once he hits one you’re on alert. And if he hits two in a row, it’s like a floodgate that opens up that you really can’t plug.”

With due respect to anything anybody else can do, no sequence in the NBA is more intoxicating for his team while demoralizing the opponent than when Curry makes three triples in a row, as he did in final five minutes of the first quarter in Game 2.

The effect is something Durant, a first-year Warrior, is seeing for the first time on a regular basis.

“He gets everybody else open once he gets it going like that,” he said. “He creates so many open shots for everybody else. You know, it’s just the team we have. If he’s got it going, give him the ball. If Klay has it going, give him the ball. Same with me, same with anybody.”

Curry has got it going. Give him the ball.

Jordan Bell wants, needs 'all the credit' for DeMarcus Cousins' debut

Jordan Bell wants, needs 'all the credit' for DeMarcus Cousins' debut

Over a six-game stretch from Dec. 19 to Dec. 29, Jordan Bell scored a total of two points and played a combined 25 minutes.

On New Year's Eve at Phoenix, the Warriors big man racked up 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 15 minutes. After the win that night, Bell explained the reason for his breakout game.

"Boogie gave me a lot of confidence yesterday in open gym -- me just kicking his ass,” Bell told reporters. “It gave me a lot of confidence. I think Steve (Kerr) saw it yesterday, too.

"He saw the confidence was up. So he decided to play me a little bit today."

Speaking of Boogie, he made his season and Warriors debut Friday night at the Clippers. The four-time NBA All-Star registered 14 points (5-of-11 shooting overall, 3 of 4 on 3s), six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He committed one turnover and fouled out in 15 minutes.

[RELATEDWith Boogie back, GM Bob Myers updates Warriors' open roster spot]

Overall, it was a successful night for DeMarcus Cousins. And according to Bell ...

... Bell deserves some love.

From Marcus Thompson of The Athletic:

“Oh yeah. Give me all the credit,” Bell said. “I want all the credit. I need it.”

Why is Bell taking credit for Cousins’ debut? Because he was the one matched up with Cousins in all the scrimmages to get the Warriors’ new big man ready to play. And Bell purposefully tried to run Cousins off the court. Bell defended Cousins the whole 94 feet, using his youth and superior athleticism to pressure Cousins. When Bell’s team had the ball, he sprinted up the floor to force Cousins to chase him.

All game. Every time. Each play. Bell did his part to get Cousins running.

Here's a good example of Cousins on the move (and keep an eye on how excited Bell was on the bench when Boogie got the ball):

Bell wasn't in the rotation Friday, but he made the most of his opportunity when he entered the game for the final four minutes -- making all three of his shots, plus an assist.

No word on if Cousins is taking the credit for that ...

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

Warriors Under Review: DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green excel vs. Clippers


Warriors Under Review: DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green excel vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- Boogie Night went well for the Warriors, exceedingly so for DeMarcus Cousins and just enough for his new teammates.

The Warriors went full junkyard dog in the second half, taking apart the Clippers in a 112-94 win Friday night at Staples Center.

It was the seventh straight victory for the Warriors, and also their NBA-best sixth in a row on the road.

Here are some of the positive and negatives taken from the game:


The glory of Cuz

The Warriors, players and coaches, had only an idea about how Cousins would fare in his first game. They thought he’d be OK as long as he didn’t try to do too much. Turns out, Boogie packed a lot of good in his 15 minutes: 14 points (5-of-11 shooting, 3-of-4 from deep, 1-of-2 from the line), six rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal. He was plus-21. Walking off the floor after fouling out, he had to realize he met some expectations and exceeded others.

He did a lot of reaching and got too impetuous at times, but in the context of a preseason game -- that’s what it was for Cousins -- he was outstanding.


Draymond stays sharp

Remember when Draymond Green was giving away the ball every third blink of an eye? He committed 25 turnovers in the first six games of the season, 13 in his first four games after missing 11 games with a toe injury. The undersized power forward has turned it around quite nicely. He had a team-high nine assists and one turnover against the Clips. This was after an extraordinary 14-1 ratio against New Orleans on Wednesday. Over his last six games, he's had 60 assists and seven turnovers.

Green has settled down and cut back on passes that were high-risk or even reckless. His point forward skills are in a beautiful groove.


KD’s first half

If not for Kevin Durant, the Warriors would have gone into intermission with one turnover. They would have ended the game with a season-low five. KD, however, committed five in the first half. A couple went directly into the hands of the Clippers. He was playing as if anxious or desperate, perhaps trying to force things in hopes of benefitting Cousins. He came out in the second half, kept it simple and committed no turnovers. Durant finished with five, half of the team’s total for the game.

Though Durant’s passing has been a highlight all season, he sometimes gets too adventurous. He did in the first half, did not in the second. He figured it out.


Second-half lockup

After sauntering through most of the first half, giving up 20 points to Tobias Harris and allowing the Clippers to be within a point (52-51), the Warriors after halftime went into lockup mode. Harris was limited to eight points in the second half, all on free throws. He was 0-of-8 from the field. LA shot 33.3 percent over the final 24 minutes, with Green and Cousins being especially effective.

The Warriors can take over most games with a few minutes of stifling defense. Holding LA to one field goal in the first five minutes of the second half qualifies.


Curry’s triple trouble

A pattern is emerging within the 3-point shooting of Stephen Curry. Every fourth of fifth game, his shot becomes fallible. This was such a night. He was 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc. He was not alone in this regard; the Warriors were 9-of-37 (24.3 percent) from deep. But this was the fifth time in 23 games since Curry returned to the lineup on Dec. 1 that he shot less than 30 percent from deep.

When Curry misses three of every four triples he takes, it stands out. Truth is, most NBA players would pray to have an “off” shooting night every fifth game.