Warriors

Steph Curry's mojo against the Cavs is now gone

Steph Curry's mojo against the Cavs is now gone

It was less than a year ago that the Warriors and Stephen Curry went into Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and put on the kind of show that polished his resume for his second consecutive MVP award.

After saying that he hoped the visitors’ locker room “still smells a little bit like champagne,” Curry needed only 28 minutes to score 35 points, on 12-of-18 shooting, including 7-of-12 from deep, in a 132-98 laugher over the Cavaliers.

He burned them a couple times in the NBA Finals, too, but midway through that series his mojo began to fade. It’s now gone, the latest compelling evidence coming Sunday, when Curry was outplayed once again by Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving in a 109-108 loss in Cleveland.

Curry’s line: 15 points (4-of-11 shooting, 2-of-7 from deep, 5-of-6 from the line), three assists, three rebounds, three steals and three turnovers. He played 37 minutes and was minus-1 for the game.

Curry was displeased with his showing, saying he felt he was aggressive enough but not always properly channeled.

“But I’ve got to do it a different way,” he said. "I mean, honestly, you can’t have 11 shots.

“I’ve got to get more looks at the rim, and that’s nobody’s fault. I’ve got to figure out a way to be more aggressive in that respect, and keep the defense honest and use all the talents that we have on this team, including my scoring ability.”

This was Curry being contained, mostly by DeAndre Liggins and Iman Shumpert, rangy guards known for playing solid defense.

Meanwhile, Irving was having quite the day: 25 points (11-of-27 shooting, 2-of-5 from deep, 1-of-1 from the line), 10 assists, six rebounds, seven steals and two turnovers. He played 44 minutes and was plus-5.

Irving also drained, with 3.4 seconds remaining, the game-winning shot – as he did in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last June.

Replaced by Shaun Livingston on the defensive possession, Curry could only watch from the bench as Irving dropped in a fadeaway over competent defense by Klay Thompson.

Curry wasn’t happy about that, either, but has no plan to confront coach Steve Kerr about the late-game substitution.

“It’s his call, obviously,” Curry said of Kerr. “But we’ll . . . you love the competitive nature, and you want to be out there trying to make a play. That will never die in me.”

Curry over his last four games against the Cavs (including Games 5, 6 and 7 of The Finals) is shooting 36.6 percent (26 of 71) from the field, including 34.6 percent (17-of-49) from beyond the arc.

That the Warriors lost all four games may not be a coincidence.

Draymond Green thinks NBA didn't need reminder Warriors are champs

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USATSI

Draymond Green thinks NBA didn't need reminder Warriors are champs

With their 31-point win over the Denver Nuggets, who led the Western Conference entering the game, the Warriors made a statement on Tuesday. 

Golden State exploded for 51 points in a record-setting first quarter, and never looked back in the Mile High City. It was a potent reminder of the Warriors' potency, but not one that Draymond Green thought the NBA needed. 

"Nah, we don't have to remind them. They know," Green told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke after the Warriors' 142-111 victory. "It's been a pretty crazy year for us [but] we're starting to figure it out, we're starting to come together and starting to click at the right time. Things are going well."

Green himself has been the center of said craziness, from his rift with Kevin Durant to injuries that have hampered him at times this season. Although he hasn't scored in double figures in the last four games, Green was back to his do-it-all self on Tuesday night in Denver. He hauled in six rebounds, dished out a season-high 13 assists, and only turned the ball over once. 

He also finished a game-high plus-41. 

"I play with a lot of great guys, a lot of great players," Green told Burke. "I just try to find them in the spots they like the ball. Guys are really shooting the ball well, I've been a playmaker on this team for some years now, that's my job."

Not that anyone needed a reminder, at least according to Green. 

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in historic 142-111 win over Nuggets

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in historic 142-111 win over Nuggets

BOX SCORE

The Warriors are back on top of the Western Conference, thin air notwithstanding.

Looking like the champions they are, the Warriors sprinted into Pepsi Center in Denver on Tuesday and laid a 142-111 annihilation on the Nuggets.

It was the fifth consecutive win by the Warriors (30-14), the first time since early November they have had such a run of success.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant combined for 89 points on 65.3 shooting, Kevon Looney snagged a career-high 12 rebounds and Draymond Green posted a team-best plus-41 in his 31 minutes of work.

In taking their first home loss in more than two months, Denver (29-14) dropped behind the Warriors and into second place in the conference.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ most impressive game of the season:

So ... any questions?

From being on the blunt end of blowouts at home, to the mediocre defensive numbers, to the general team chemistry, there have been legitimate concerns about the Warriors this season.

Consider those concerns incinerated.

The Warriors opened this game with playoff intensity, and with such extraordinary offense that the defense barely mattered. They built a 10-point lead in less than four minutes and a 20-point lead early in the second quarter. They had 22 assists and two turnovers in the first half and finished with 38 and 10, respectively.

When the Warriors really want to show what they’re about, this is what they do. This was a reminder -- for themselves and the rest of the NBA -- of the damage they do when fully engaged.

3-Ball City

Denver entered the game with the best 3-point shot defense in the NBA, limiting opponents to 33.2-percent shooting from beyond the arc.

So when the Warriors drained 10 3-pointers in only 14 attempts in the first quarter, the Nuggets had to be shocked. They also had to have an inkling of what was in store.

[RELATED: Warriors set franchise records in first quarter vs. Nuggets]

By the time Draymond Green hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, it was abundantly clear the Nuggets would be buried under a pile of triples.

The 3-balls kept dropping and dropping at an absurdly efficient rate. Curry scored 31 points on 8-of-13 shooting from deep, Durant totaled 27 and was 5-of-7 from deep, while Thompson was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc in finishing with 31 points.

The Warriors finished 21-of-39 (53.8 percent) from deep.

Joke was on “The Joker"

Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic -- AKA The Joker -- leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. The 7-footer was coming off a game in which he scored 40 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and recorded eight assists.

He’s in the MVP conversation.

The Warriors went after him early, made him defend and wore him out.

Jokic totaled 17 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three turnovers. He was minus-21 in 23 minutes.

What happened to his offense? The Warriors played him straight-up, mostly with Looney, but sent another player whenever he was in the paint. There was not one minute during which Jokic looked comfortable on offense.

When you contain -- practically silence -- the opponent’s best player, victory tends to be a given.