Game Notes: Warriors at Clippers
Curry comes up big and boosts his ROY chances.
A game between the lowly Clippers and worse-off Warriors on a Sunday night at Staples Center didn’t sound like the most entertaining affair, certainly not with so many other things to do in Los Angeles.
But there we were. Believe it or not, SLAMonline was in the house anyway with the hopes of getting some one-on-one time with Stephen Curry. Unfortunately, our plans for an in-depth Q&A never materialized.
We did catch up with first-year phenom for a brief few moments after the Warriors’ 121-103 victory, and luckily, Curry offered up some thoughts on how he felt the Rookie of the Year race was going to play out.
He has, after all, made an impressive late-season push to win the award, joining the likes of Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings in what figures to be a close vote when all is said and done. Curry attempted to downplay the hype.
“It’s an honor for people to even put me in the conversation,” he said to members of the media. “I am just going out there and trying to play hard. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t as confident as I am now at point guard. I am going to focus on doing things the right way and continue to progress.”
Progress he has. And never was that more evident than during a dominating first half of play against the Clippers. It was as if Curry could do no wrong, scoring 16 points over the course of the opening 24 minutes of action.
Alertly, he differed to his teammates in the second half. Keeping everyone involved was key. As a result, the Warriors built a comfortable lead and never looked back en route to a convincing win. All told, Curry finished with 18 points, on 8-15 shooting, to go along with 7 assists and 4 rebounds.
Not bad numbers for a newbie.
Then again, anyone that’s kept an eye on Curry this season knows that he’s fully capable of contributing on a nightly basis. No doubt about it. Suppose that best explains why he’s widely recognized as one of the favorites to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
*** The Golden State public relations people do their jobs well. They reminded everyone that Don Nelson is four victories away from becoming the NBA’s winningest coach during regular season play. For the record, Lenny Wilkens holds the all-time mark with 1,332. Considering the Warriors face a soft schedule down the stretch, we like Nellie’s chances of breaking the record sooner rather than later.
*** No Monta Ellis for Golden State tonight. Looks like he’s out with some type of illness, perhaps the flu. That’s too bad. Total bummer because he’s one of those individuals who is always fun to watch, always entertaining, regardless of the circumstance.
*** The Clippers are off to a good start, due in large part to Baron Davis. He hands out assists to Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon, converts a conventional three-point play and adds a pair of free-throws. Golden State trails 13-8 at 8:07.
*** Curry makes a layup and knocks down an 18-footer to keep things somewhat close. The Clippers are up a basket with 6:48 on the clock.
*** Out in transition, Davis works his into the lane and is challenged by Reggie Williams. The savvy veteran loses the former D-Leaguer with an around-the-back dribble before kicking the ball out to an open Rasual Butler, who buries a three-pointer. The sequence gives the Clippers a six-point lead with 5:58 remaining.
*** No he didn’t. Gordon goes baseline, elevates and throws down a one-handed dunk over Anthony Morrow. And 1. Following the Gordon free-throw the advantage is extended to 36-23. There’s about 1:20 left in the first.
*** Curry answers, of course. At the top of the key, a crossover move on Travis Outlaw frees up some additional space, just enough to hit a step-back jumper to cut the deficit down seven points at the end of one.
*** It’s more of the same. More Curry. And more problems for the confused Clippers, who end up seeing their lead disappear. Curry sinks a floater along the baseline to give Golden State a two-point lead at 7:39.
*** Davis refuses to be outdone by his counterpart. He makes a beeline for the basket and scores on a left-handed scoop as Curry is nowhere to be found. The Clippers, however, still trail by seven with 5:43 left.
*** Curry dribbles into the paint, draws the defense toward him, and out of the corner of his eye, spots Williams alone out on the perimeter. A well-placed bounce pass leads to a three-pointer. The Warriors lead, 59-47, at 3:48.
*** Williams makes a pair of layups and dishes the rock to Morrow for a jumper. What a turnaround. After trailing by double digits early on, Golden State ends up regrouping quickly and heads into the break with a 19-point lead.
*** Intermission doesn’t slow down Curry, not in the least bit. He’s at his creative best leading the break. Out on the wing, Corey Maggette is cutting to the basket. After receiving a pass from the rookie, Maggette goes to the goal. Kaman comes over to help. Too late, Maggette is already above the rim. Golden State is up, 73-53, at 10:11.
*** The Clippers show signs of life, if you want to call it that. Gordon knocks down four consecutive free-throws down the stretch and a bucket from Butler cuts the lead to 84-70. Tons of time left in this one, 3:50 to be exact.
*** Maggette responds with seven straight points and Williams follows with a layup and a free-throw. At the end of the three, the Warriors are up 12 points.
*** Anthony Tolliver, another dude from the D-League, has gone about his business rather quietly. That is, until now. His three-pointer at 6:11 gives Golden State what appears to be an insurmountable advantage, 109-93, at 6:11.
*** The Clippers played well for the first 12 minutes, but have looked lethargic ever since. Butler hits a short jumper, but the Warriors are still up 11 points at 3:54. Despite a Butler three-pointer at 2:15, the Clippers trail by 10.
*** Curry with the dagger. With the defense focusing on him yet again, unselfishly, he finds Williams open for a three, from way downtown. It’s good. Golden State is up, 118-103, with 1:07. That should just about do it. Ballgame. Golden State wins, 121-103.
*** Williams has done well since getting the call-up. Playing with the big boys in the NBA hasn’t fazed him at all. Maybe he belongs. In his second career start, he finished with 25 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Here‘s what Nelson had to say about Williams: “I think he has a gift. He doesn’t even know how big a gift he has. We’ve just dusted off the surface.”
*** Butler ended up with a team-high 21 points, on 7-18 shooting from the field, including a 4-10 effort from beyond the arc. Afterward, he summed up the loss rather well.: “They got into a pretty good rhythm. They made some tough shots and went on a nice little run, and we just couldn’t recover. We didn’t try to run at them, our goal was just to get back on defense. We wanted to play our game. They are a quick team and we just couldn’t keep up.” Couldn’t have said it any better myself.