Warriors

Steph Curry asserts aggression in 40-point game with new-look Warriors

Steph Curry asserts aggression in 40-point game with new-look Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- Warriors guard Steph Curry has long been the centerpiece of Golden State's offense. 

His habit of making shots from far beyond the 3-point line has revolutionized basketball over the last decade. On Thursday night, he continued the trend, scoring 40 points in 26 minutes to lead the Warriors in beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 143-123. 

Curry exploits come at a unique time for Golden State. With Kevin Durant gone to Brooklyn, Klay Thompson shelved until the All-Star break and eight new additions to the roster, similar performances will be imperative. 

"He's going to have a large offensive burden all year," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday night. "Just the nature of what we've lost from a scoring standpoint and a playmaking standpoint." 

Thursday brought Curry's usual game. His first shot came from the deep corner, off an assist from Draymond Green, as he ran up court before the 3-pointer swished through the net. Seven minutes later, he broke down Wolves guard Jake Layman, before throwing up a layup high over the outstretched arms of Karl-Anthony Towns.

By halftime, Curry was up to 24 points, including three 3-pointers. 

"Steph looks like he's in mid-season form now," Kerr said.  

Curry's value might have been more glaring when he was on the bench. During a stretch Curry was off the floor through the first and second quarters, Golden State was outscored 16-9 by the Wolves. When he returned, the Warriors promptly went on an 11-4 run, taking a 55-51 lead. 

The two-time MVP isn't new to large offensive responsibilities. During the 2015-16 season, Curry had the highest player efficiency rating since 1991, while leading the league in 3-pointers made (402), steals (169), win-shares (17.9) and value over replacement (9.8) while finishing second in usage, earning him the first unanimous MVP in league history.

Entering his 11th NBA season -- with a roster full of changes -- Curry had an idea of what was needed.

"Coming into camp, I have the same mentality every time I step on the floor," he said. "Doesn't mean I'm shooting every possession, but I'm trying to make plays and do what I'm comfortable doing and that's just playing my style of basketball and being aggressive and confident." 

"It's just the natural way of our offense and how I'm going to have the ball more. I just got to make the right plays. Be confident, aggressive and assertive every possession and that gets the dominoes falling."

Curry's change in aggression comes as his team is going through a transition of its own. Thursday marked just the second game at Golden State's new Chase Center in San Francisco. Though fewer than 20 miles from the team's old facility in Oakland, most of the team is transitioning to a new home.

Kerr can only get around 'The City' with the help of directions app Waze, while Curry is failing to find a replacement location for the tunnel he made famous at Oracle Arena. 

“I did shed a tear about the tunnel shot tonight," Curry admitted. 

Perhaps the biggest change is the way Curry gets to his new office. Now living in the South Bay, he's still finding a route that suits his schedule. 

"I just got here 20-25 minutes later than I usually do and I'm a creature of habit and routine," he said. "Obviously, I played well but it still throws you off a little bit because you're still trying to get the flow. For ten years, I had the same routine every step of the way. I try to repeat that routine but there are some quirks and different routes you take. It's a different vantage point." 

[RELATED: Robinson III makes his case as Dubs' starting small forward]

As for his play on the court, it hasn't changed, but the output might be more important than ever. 

"Hopefully that vibe is contagious," Curry said. "I just don't know what it will look like every night but I'm going to play that exact same way and just do what I do." 

LeBron James says Warriors not weird without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson

LeBron James says Warriors not weird without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson

Over the last five years, LeBron James has grown accustomed to battling the Warriors at the height of their powers.

James and the Cleveland Cavaliers dueled the Dubs in four consecutive NBA Finals, both with and without Kevin Durant. There were, of course, a few important constants in each of those Finals battles with James, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all sharing the floor.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Last season, James' first with the Lakers, he missed the playoffs for the first time since his second season in the NBA. While the Lakers recharged over the offseason with the acquisition of Anthony Davis, the Warriors went the other way. Decimated by injuries and the exodus of key players like Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, the Warriors find themselves gutting out a transition year with both Curry (broken hand) and Thompson (torn ACL) expected to miss most of, if not the entire season.

As such, Wednesday night's battle between James' Lakers and the Warriors minus Curry and Thompson felt weird to all those watching. But it didn't feel weird to James.

"Not when you're in it, you know," James said after the Lakers' 120-94 win at Staples Center, via ESPN. "Not when you're in it. I think when I'm watching them, you know, when I'm at home and we're on off nights and I'm watching them -- then it becomes weird then just seeing Klay in a suit and, you know, not seeing Steph out there. But not when you're playing. I played them in the Finals without Kyrie and Kevin. So no." 

Was that last part wasn't necessary? We get it, the 2015 Cavs were a few stars short of a full deck and the outcome could have been different had everyone been healthy. It happens, let's move on.

[RELATED: Warriors' defense goes missing again in loss vs. Lakers]

Despite what James said, playing a Warriors team that is not even a shell of its former self had to feel weird after spending four years at each other's throats.

James and the Lakers no doubt are glad to see the Warriors removed from the Western Conference's crowded puzzle this season, leaving one less formidable opponent in their path to a title.

But Curry and Thompson will be back, and the Warriors will get off the mat soon enough.

Klay Thompson had priceless reaction to JaVale McGee's dunk during interview

Klay Thompson had priceless reaction to JaVale McGee's dunk during interview

For most of this season, if not all, Klay Thompson's highlights will be off the court.

As the Warriors star shooting guard recovers from a torn ACL, his big moments will come in the form of being left hanging by teammates, Japanese spa Instagrams and sideline interview moments.

Such was the case Wednesday during the Warriors' 120-94 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. With the Dubs trailing by 21 midway through the fourth quarter, Thompson chatted with ESPN. Shortly into the interview, Thompson's old Warriors teammate and current Lakers center JaVale McGee threw down a dunk to swell the lead to 23, and Klay's reaction says it all.

The Warriors miss Thompson on both ends of the floor this season. While his silky shooting stroke would give them another dynamic offensive weapon, it's his defense that would give the Dubs an immeasurable boost. 

Without Thompson, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors' defense has plummeted from one of the best units in the NBA to one of the league's worst. Wednesday night's loss was a prime example as LeBron James and the Lakers got whatever they wanted from the jump, feasting on the Warriors' shoddy defense.

[RELATED: Warriors' defense again goes missing in loss vs. Lakers]

Until he and Steph Curry can return to the court, Thompson will have just gave to grit his teeth and watch his young teammates go through some severe NBA growing pains.