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.