Warriors

Seth Curry makes impact, but Steph Curry wins brothers' Game 2 battle

Seth Curry makes impact, but Steph Curry wins brothers' Game 2 battle

OAKLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers locker room was quiet before Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night.

Maybe it was focus. Maybe it was anger.

Alone in his locker stall at Oracle Arena sat reserve shooting guard Seth Curry. Reserve has a double meaning when you're the younger brother of NBA superstar Stephen Curry. Seth comes off the bench for Portland coach Terry Stotts, and the younger Curry is also a bit of an introvert.

His annual trip to Oakland to watch postseason basketball this season came courtesy of a team plane this time around. He’s staying in a five-star hotel, not at his brother’s house. He’s wearing Blazers red and black, rather than hanging out in the family suite.

His Blazers are playing against Steph's Warriors. 

“It’s a weird experience for me because I’m usually here hoping these guys win and hoping Steph plays well,” the younger Curry told NBC Sports Bay Area before the Blazers' 114-111 loss in Game 2. “I’m flipping the switch now, and I’m trying to knock him off. I’m just trying to focus in on my job.”

Older by nearly three years, Steph has all the hardware. He’s a two-time MVP and three-time NBA Champion. He has led the league led the league in scoring and is widely considered the greatest long-range shooter in NBA history.

“Being able to watch Steph and experience his journey over the past five years going to the Finals, the playoffs, whatever it is," Seth said, "I’ve just been able to watch his process and how prepares for every series in the playoffs and how he blocks out game by game all the storylines, I’m trying to do it as well,” 

The younger Curry has fought his way into the league. The 28-year-old spent time in the G League (then the D-League) and played for four teams before breaking out with the Mavericks two seasons ago. 

He sat out last year with a stress fracture in his lower left leg and signed with the Trail Blazers on a one-year deal over the summer. His play this season has likely earned a longer-term deal next year, whether in Portland or elsewhere.

Curry has carved out a niche as a sparkplug off the bench. He has the family range, like his brother and his father Dell, who played 16 years in the NBA beginning in 1986. Seth knocked down 45 percent of his 3-pointers this season, and boasts a career mark of 43.9 percent from distance.

This is his first chance to play in the postseason, after six years in the league. His Portland team has shocked the NBA with their play in this year’s playoffs, but facing off against his brother and the star-studded Warriors was not exactly what he was looking for.

“No, no, no, no,” Curry said when asked if he was glad his first experience was against his brother. “It’s a weird experience to be here for myself, but they’ve been the best team in the league for a long time. It’s not an easy road, that’s a tough team. It’s never fun playing against Steph and these Warriors just matching up head-to-head. But if we can knock them off, it’d be even sweeter.”

Curry came into the night averaging just 5.2 points in 19.2 minutes per game during the playoffs. Starters Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have carried a ton of the scoring load throughout the postseason, but Golden State did a nice job against the duo in Game 1.

In Game 2, Curry was a difference-maker early. He posted a plus-14 in 15 minutes during the first half Thursday. He was aggressive on both ends of the court as Stotts turned to a three-guard small-ball lineup.

After the intermission, Stotts waited to turn back to Curry and paid the price. The Warriors quickly erased a 15-point halftime deficit and took a two-point lead with 2:01 remaining in the third.

Curry entered the game and helped Portland get to the fourth quarter tied at 89-89. He continued his strong play in the final frame, leading the Blazers in scoring in the fourth with nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc.

“Seth was incredible,” Klay Thompson said after the Warriors' win. “He almost won the game for them. We got to do a better on him. He had 16 points. That’s a huge impact, plus-13, so we got to try and eliminate his looks the next game.”

Curry hit 5 of 9 shots from the field and added two assists in 29 minutes. On the defensive end, he picked up four steals, most of which came off of his big brother.

“It felt good, it felt like I changed the game and put in more energy,” Curry said. “I just made him work harder to get shots. I mean, he is going to put up numbers, he is going to play well to try and change the momentum.”

The two brothers went at each other with the game on the line. Both hit tremendous shots that helped their team, but the older, more experienced brother came out on top.

“I thought of their parents at one point,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Can you imagine watching your two boys go head-to-head in a playoff game and both of them hitting huge shots?

“It’s an incredible story to have two boys in the NBA, but particularly in the conference finals, playing head-to-head and knocking down all of these big shots. That must have been fun.”

Fun or gut-wrenching. Dell and Sonya Curry have watched their sons battle in the regular season, but never in the playoffs.

“This was like the coolest experience I think I've ever had playing against him,” Steph told reporters Thursday. “We talked about the stage and he was -- he was amazing tonight.”

[RELATED: Lillard doesn't think Game 2 was Blazers' last at Oracle Arena]

“You know, every minute he was out there defensively, he was a pest,” Steph added. “Made three big shots in the fourth quarter that were very timely and for my parents, I know we talked about the whole series, and these last two games, it's probably nerve-wracking as heck for them, but it worked out perfectly tonight. He played well and we won.”

Seth and his Trail Blazers teammates need to regroup. They’ll travel home to Portland and prepare for another matchup against the Warriors in Saturday night's Game 3 at Moda Center. They’re down two-games-to-none in the best-of-seven series, but they’re home crowd is sure to be raucous. 

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

SALT LAKE CITY - The Warriors have lost a lot in the last six months. 

The most obvious wound is the gutting of its Hall of Fame roster, and the injuries that crippled it. But perhaps the most essential damage to the team's evolution is its most recent struggle: Failing to close out games talent used to be able to overcome. 

In its latest effort -- a 114-106 loss to the Jazz -- the Warriors led for much of the first half before Utah took control in the third quarter. The loss came at a strange time for Golden State as their three All-Stars -- Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry -- were nursing injured back in California and their prized rookie Eric Paschall was in the locker room due to a hip injury. 

Nonetheless, the league's worst team left Vivint Smart Home Arena seeing enough progress to believe they're heading in the right direction, even if the scoreboard says otherwise. 

"There is a lot of good stuff," Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted. "But you want that to lead to a win and that's coming."

Remnants of Kerr's positivity showed through the first 24 minutes Friday evening. In the first quarter, they held the Jazz to 39 percent from the field, outscoring Utah 14-8 in the paint. By the end of the first half, they built a 56-49 lead, marked by promising plays from its young core. 

Six minutes into the first quarter, 6-foot-8 big man Omari Spellman pulled down a rebound, went the length of the court, bullying his way for a layup to give Golden State a 20-18 lead. A quarter later, center Marquese Chriss blocked Jazz guard Royce O'Neal at the rim, ran the length of the floor and received a pass for an easy dunk on the other end, pushing Golden State's lead to 13. 

Following halftime, the Jazz responded by outscoring the Warriors 37-28 in the third quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 10 of his game-high 32 points over the stretch, as Utah made a run that was all-too-familiar to Golden State. 

"They picked up their pace in the third quarter," Kerr said. "I'm sure they were not happy with their pace in the first half and so they played a great third quarter and put a lot of pressure on us."

Worse, even after the Warriors briefly took a 104-103 lead with just over two minutes left, the Jazz went on an 11-2 run to close the game, underscoring one of the team's biggest problems this season. Through 27 games, the Warriors are among the worst teams in the last five minutes of games. During the timeframe, they're posting a putrid 92.9 offensive rating, with a net rating of -33.6. 

For context, the 2017-18 Warriors -- featuring a healthy Curry, Green, Thompson and Kevin Durant -- posted a 112.2 offensive rating in clutch situations, finishing third in the league, leaving a mark the current battered Warriors are trying to fulfill.  

"I think we can win a lot more games than we have," said Chriss. "We've been in games that we could win and honestly that we should win. People try to say that our team is down and things like that but we're competing with teams that have their full roster. This team is full of fighters and teams that want to win." 

While the team is frustrated, their latest performance comes with a caveat. Clutch performances are built through experience, an attribute the league's third-youngest team has yet to gain. 

"I remember being in this position earlier in my career where you get the taste of winning, but you don't really know how to do it, you may just get lucky that night," said 23-year old guard D'Angelo Russell. "Other teams in the league that are solidified, they find a way to win and those other teams that aren't supposed to win find a way to lose so I think it comes with growth and experience."

[RELATED: Burks wants to stay with Warriors]

Late Friday evening, just before he left Salt Lake City for a late-night flight back to the Bay Area, recovering from yet another close loss, Kerr made a declaration for his young team, despite optics of the contrary. 

"I like where we're heading," he said. "I really do. I know it might sound crazy because of our record, but I think we're going to start winning some games. I think we're getting better."

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in deflating 114-106 loss to Jazz

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USATSI

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in deflating 114-106 loss to Jazz

BOX SCORE

SALT LAKE CITY -- Warriors big man Marquese Chriss said his team was "tired of losing" during his halftime interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke on Friday at Vivent Smart Home Arena.

Unfortunately for Chriss, the Warriors will have to wait at least two more days to erase their current skid, as Golden State lost 114-106 to the Jazz. 

Unlike most nights, the Warriors -- without Draymond Green and rookie Eric Paschall -- showed fight, taking a seven-point lead after the first quarter. However, a second-half Utah run doomed their chances as the Warriors' inability to finish crippled them once again. 

There are no moral victories in sports and the Warriors will take another loss back to the Bay Area. 

Here are the takeaways as the Warriors fell to 5-22 on the season: 

Fast start erased in one quarter

The Warriors have been immune to quick starts over the last week. On Friday, the trend changed. Through the first 24 minutes, Golden State outscored Utah 26-18 in the paint, while holding the Jazz to just 43 percent from the field. 

Utah's defense was out of sorts in the second quarter, as the Warriors built a 13-point lead. On one possession, Chriss blocked a shot on one end, ran the floor unguarded and received a pass wide open under the basket for an easy dunk. 

Then the third quarter happened.

Over the next 12 minutes the Warriors were outscored 37-28. Even when the Warriors fought back, a key missed dunk from Willie Cauley-Stein ended any hopes of a win. 

The Warriors have shown fight amid injuries, but the only mark of success is winning, a goal the team again couldn't accomplish in Utah. 

Alec Burks shines

Against his former team, Burks was effective, finishing with 24 points including two 3-pointers. Despite shooting just 41 percent from the field this season, Burks has shown the ability to carry Golden State's offense when needed. His downhill attack consistently puts the opponent on edge. 

The location of Burks' output is noteworthy. He spent eight years playing in Utah before injuries derailed his career. His affinity for the town was apparent from the time he walked into the building. Following his pregame workout, he spent most of his time exchanging pleasantries with former teammates and arena staff, causing a Warriors team official to jokingly ask, "When is Alec's statue going up?"

[RELATED: Burks wants to stay with Warriors]

Chriss shined despite scare

The first-year Warrior continued his reclamation bid, finishing with 12 points, adding 13 rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off the bench. 

Chriss had a slight scare in the third quarter when he knocked knees with a Jazz player contesting a layup. He was later diagnosed as a left knee contusion. 

Following a rough start to his career, Chriss has become a valuable piece to the transitional Warriors, providing rebounding and scoring off the bench. Friday was yet another example of his contributions.