War­riors’ Hamp­tons 5 vs. Rock­ets’ Tuck­wagon

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - PAGE 2 - BRUCE JENKINS Bruce Jenkins is a San Francisco Chron­i­cle colum­nist. Email: bjenk­ins@sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @Bruce_Jenk­ins1

As the War­riors and Rock­ets head to Oak­land:

⏩ Make way for the Tuck­wagon, every­body. The Rock­ets are feel­ing so good about their Game 2 win, they’re is­su­ing a chal­lenge to the War­riors’ fear­some small-ball lineup known as the Hamp­tons 5. They ac­tu­ally feel they have some­thing bet­ter.

The key is for­ward P.J. Tucker, who re­places cen­ter Clint Capela in the Rock­ets’ align­ment. “We feel like we’re the best at that, when we go small,” Tucker told USA To­day af­ter pour­ing in 22 points on 8-for-9 shoot­ing Wed­nes­day. “We feel like no­body can do what we do. You want to go small? All right, we’ll go small, too. And like I said, our small lineup is the best in the league.”

The play­ers like to call it the “Tuck­wagon,” and it’s in­ter­est­ing to note: When the Rock­ets failed to sign An­dre Iguo­dala dur­ing his free-agency win­dow last sum­mer, they turned to Tucker, who signed a four-year, $32 mil­lion deal. Tucker won’t be so hot ev­ery night, but his de­fense is a con­stant, and don’t leave him alone in the cor­ners. That’s his fa­vorite place to shoot.

⏩ You’ve never seen such a look of con­tent­ment. As a TNT cam­era ze­roed in on Stephen Curry, sit­ting on the War­riors’ bench near the end of Thurs­day night’s game, he wore more than a smile. He looked like a man ab­so­lutely as­sured of a glo­ri­ous — wait, heav­enly — fu­ture.

Well, there’s no time to waste. Curry has hit just two three-point shots in the se­ries, and he hasn’t gone that cold in con­sec­u­tive games since Feb­ru­ary 2017 (0-for-11 at Philadel­phia, then 2-for-9 at Wash­ing­ton). There are no signs that he is sig­nif­i­cantly hurt; he’s mov­ing freely about the court and even led the War­riors in Game 2 re­bounds (eight). But his de­fen­sive vul­ner­a­bil­ity — true at all times when teams re­lent­lessly at­tack him — has be­come too much of a story. What­ever suc­cess he’s had driv­ing the lane, he needs to light up Or­a­cle Arena from long dis­tance Sun­day. That’s when he’s The De­mor­al­izer.

⏩ Where’s Ros? The War­riors hated to lose Ros Gold-On­wude, the tal­ented side­line an­nouncer, to TNT this sea­son. But the net­work has cho­sen Kristen Led­low to work this se­ries in that role. “They love Ros,” said a source fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion. “But she’s not on the A-team yet.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.