Why Steph-Dame half-court shooting challenge must wait


Steph Curry's half-court logo shooting showdown with Damian Lillard will have to wait, at least according to one of the participants.

The Warriors star commented on an Instagram post from the Portland Trail Blazers guard last month, with Curry joking that he'd pull up from half-court with 18 seconds left on the shot clock if Lillard did. Alas, Lillard told former teammate and NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Dorell Wright earlier the timing isn't right for Portland's visit to Chase Center on Friday night.

"I think right now, with the injuries that the Warriors have been dealing with and Steph playing with a younger team right now, he's seeing that it's tough to get those quality looks right now," Lillard told Wright, his teammate in Portland from 2013 through '15, in an interview airing Friday night on "Warriors Pregame Live." The broadcast begins at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

"It's different than what it's looked like over the last four or five years for him," Lillard continued. "He's trying to get quality looks and get a clean look so he can make a good one. You don't really have that luxury to take one from that deep just to be taking it like in the past he might have, and I'm the same, getting a lot of attention from defenses."

Curry and Lillard are off to similarly slow starts, albeit amid different circumstances. Curry missed all but five games last season with a broken hand, going over nine months between what would be the final appearance in the 2019-20 regular season and his first of the 2020-21 campaign. Lillard, meanwhile, starred during the NBA's restarted season in its bubble just outside of Orlando, Fla. over the summer. The Los Angeles Lakers eliminated the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs on Aug. 29, and Portland opened this season just shy of four months later on Dec. 23.

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After an abbreviated preseason that followed abnormal offseasons, neither Curry nor Lillard have found their shooting stroke. Neither player has made more than a third of their 3-point shots this season, let alone close to half of their shots from the field. Only once has each sharpshooter made at least 50 percent of their shots in a game this season.

"I'm trying to see the ball go in, so I'm not about to just fire one just 'cause," Lillard said. "I gotta get it going first, so I think we both seeing the same thing in that way. Once the season kind of gets rolling and everybody gets all the way in form, I think that's when you're gonna see it."

Curry and Lillard's slumps aren't permanent, and they each should rediscover their shooting touch sooner rather than later. In other words? Don't hold your breath for half-court heat checks Friday or Sunday nights, but keep your calendars open when the Warriors visit Portland on March 3.

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