SPORTS: WAR­RIORS FALL BE­HIND IN NBA FI­NAL

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Me­d­ina

OAK­LAND — Even if he can make most of the shots he takes, Stephen Curry still be­lieves strongly about dis­play­ing teamwork and em­pow­er­ing those around him.

With the War­riors with­out a de­pend­able scorer (Kevin Du­rant), shooter (Klay Thomp­son) and role player (Kevon Looney), the War­riors could not sim­ply rely on their so-called “Strength in Num­bers” phi­los­o­phy. They needed Curry to make long-dis­tance heaves, nav­i­gate end­less dou­ble teams and of­fer steady lead­er­ship.

Yet, War­riors still needed more. The War­riors la­bored through a 123-109 loss to the Toronto Rap­tors in Game 3 of the NBA Fi­nals on Wed­nes­day at Or­a­cle Arena, and the rea­sons had noth­ing to do with Curry. It had ev­ery­thing to do with the War­riors fail­ing to com­ple­ment Curry with a de­pend­able sup­port­ing cast.

Curry did ev­ery­thing he could to pre­vent the Rap­tors from tak­ing both a 2-1 se­ries lead and home-court ad­van­tage. Curry fin­ished with 47 points while shoot­ing 14-of31 from the field, 6-of-14 from 3 and 13-of-14 from the freethrow line, mark­ing his high­est scor­ing out­put in a Fi­nals game through the past five years. Even if Curry has col­lected three NBA ti­tles, two reg­u­lar-sea­son MVP’s and count­less shoot­ing records, he could not sin­gle-hand­edly carry the War­riors.

Not when the rest of the War­riors shot a com­bined 22-of-60 from the field and from 6-of-22 3. Not when DeMar­cus Cousins fin­ished with four points on 1-of-7 shoot­ing in 19 min­utes two days af­ter hav­ing an inspiring Game 2 with 11 points, 10 re­bounds, six blocks and two steals in 28 min­utes. Not when the Rap­tors of­fered too much Kawhi Leonard (30 points), Kyle Lowry (23) and 3-point shoot­ing (17-of-38).

Still, Curry did ev­ery­thing he could pos­si­bly do. He made count­less floaters and 3’s. He dove for loose balls and forced jump balls. He scrapped for re­bounds (eight). When he did not have an open look, Curry be­came a play­maker (seven as­sists).

The good news for the War­riors: help might be on the way. Af­ter miss­ing the past eight play­off games be­cause of a strained right calf, Du­rant might re­turn for Game 4 on Fri­day should he com­plete a scrimmage suc­cess­fully on Thurs­day. Thomp­son might show enough progress in his in­jured left ham­string to re­turn, too. The bad news for the War­riors: Curry will need help if he has to play with­out his two All-Star team­mates for at least an­other game.

EZRA SHAW/GETTY IM­AGES/TNS

Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Rap­tors at­tempts a shot against the Golden State War­riors dur­ing Game 3 of the NBA Fi­nals in Oak­land on Wed­nes­day. The Rap­tors won, 123-109, for a 2-1 se­ries lead.

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