Stephen Curry leads Warriors to comeback win over Clippers
As Stephen Curry walked toward the sideline Friday night after finishing his postgame interview with ESPN, Draymond Green tossed him the game ball.
Curry had just willed Golden State to a 115-105 win over the Clippers at Chase Center. On a night the Warriors trailed by as many as 22 points, they showed resilience, riding Curry’s brilliance to their fifth victory in seven games.
Along the way, Golden State was reminded just how much its fortunes are tied to the face of the franchise. This is a team that is 0-4 this season when Curry fails to score 30 points and 5-0 when he eclipses the 30-point mark.
“I think our guys just hung in there,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, whose team outscored the Clippers 65-40 in the second half. “They kept their energy up. They kept their spirit up. They were pumping each other up on the sidelines. It just felt like we were on the ropes, but we hung in and that’s what matters.”
After scoring 14 points in the first half, Curry flashed his signature joy, using a mix of dizzying dribbling and transition 3-pointers to finish with 38 points on 13-for-24 shooting, 11 assists and three steals. With little more than a minute left, he laced the ball twice between his legs, stepped back, nailed a 25-footer over his defender’s outstretched arm for his season-high ninth 3-pointer, and nodded emphatically as he chewed his mouthguard.
In those moments, when Curry is at his best, opponents have little recourse. What makes Curry’s trademark scoring binges so daunting, however, is that they tend to open up the floor for his teammates.
After scoring 13 points in an 18-3 run over the final 3:15 of the third quarter to cut the Warriors’ 21-point deficit to 87-81, he watched from the bench as his lesser-known counterparts gave Golden State a six-point cushion. This was the type of performance that helps a team believe it can outpace expectations.
After losing their first two games by a combined 65 points, the Warriors heard critics suggest that they’d be lottery-bound without Klay Thompson for the second straight season. Now, as Golden State sits above .500 fresh off a comeback win over a likely title contender, it reckons it’s just beginning to realize its potential.
“We’re going to be good,” forward Eric Paschall said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better."
For the past couple of weeks, even after blowout losses, Kerr has spoken about how his team has the intangibles — camaraderie, diligence, perseverance — that define most winners. The problem was that it takes a while for newcomers to adapt to Curry’s movement-heavy style.
After totaling a combined 92 points in wins over Portland and Sacramento, Curry toiled through a 13-point dud in Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers, only to recapture his dynamic ways when it mattered most against that same Los Angeles team Friday. His third-quarter heroics featured enough highlights to fill a significant reel. After watching Curry hit a quick 3-pointer off a Kent Bazemore feed to enter the fourth, his teammates appeared emboldened.
Paschall, who finished with 12 points off the bench, helped the Warriors take the lead early in the fourth quarter by beating his defender off the dribble again and again. Andrew Wiggins chipped in 16 points to help Golden State overcome a 2-for-7 shooting night from Kelly Oubre Jr.
Though the Warriors struggled mightily at times on defense, they shot 20-for-41 from 3-point range. It came as no surprise that nearly half of those made 3-pointers were from Curry.
To contend in a loaded Western Conference this season, the Warriors need him to play at an MVP level. Friday reinforced that he’s willing to be a little selfish if it means getting Golden State a win.
After receiving the game ball from Green, Curry handed it to Warriors scorekeeper Fred Kast, who was retiring after 57 years. The man who chronicles Golden State history was going out with a familiar sight: scoring a big night from Curry.
“It’s mind-blowing the kind of shots he can make,” Wiggins said. “He can score with the basketball, but he’s just as deadly off ball. That’s what makes him so special."