San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Curry’s outburst leads to blowout
As his teammates failed to capitalize on his offensive brilliance again and again this season, Warriors guard Stephen Curry became frustrated.
Not one to complain, he kept his grievances mostly to himself, only offering the occasional hint of his irritation in postgame pressers. But when Curry unleashed a roar after he hit a corner 3pointer midway through the third quarter of the Warriors’ 11387 win over the Rockets at Toyota Center in Houston on Saturday night, he might as well have been exorcising much of his pentup annoyance. This is someone who knows that, for Golden State to even beat some of the league’s worst teams, it needs him to deliver one of his signature scoring binges. After struggling throughout the first half, Curry scored 15 of his gamehigh 30 points in a 240 run during that third quarter to rid the outcome of doubt and help the Warriors move past a couple of rough losses.
In those 12 gamechanging minutes Saturday, Curry had 23 points on 7for11 shooting (5for7 from 3point range) as Golden State outscored the Rockets 3912. It was enough to ensure that he could watch the fourth quarter from the bench as seldomused reserves got some muchappreciated run.
With about seven minutes left, Curry turned toward teammate Draymond Green (nine points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) on the bench and did a little jig. Finally, in a season that has tested his patience, Curry had reason to celebrate.
“One of the most remarkable things about Steph is he can be in the midst of what
looks like one of his worst games of the entire season, and then he just explodes,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, whose team moved back to .500 and sits a halfgame behind eighthplace Memphis in the conference standings. “He has the ultimate confidence.”
After the Warriors won seven of nine games for their best stretch of the year, they lost to the Mavericks and Timberwolves in the past week by a combined 42 points. In the wake of Thursday’s defeat to that lotterybound Minnesota team, Curry told reporters, “We can talk in terms of what’s wrong. But at the end of the day, it’s on us to figure that out if we want this season to mean anything.”
It was a telling sound bite for someone whose MVPcaliber production hasn’t kept the Warriors from hovering around .500. Once accustomed to annual trips to the Finals, Curry has struggled at times to deal with his supporting cast’s nagging inconsistencies. But for much of Saturday, he was part of the problem, entering halftime with seven points on 2for12 shooting as the Warriors stared down a sixpoint hole.
With little less than eight minutes left in the third quarter, Curry took a handoff from Kevon Looney, drained a 3pointer and screamed as he ran back on defense. Kerr later said that Curry was mocking himself after such an ugly first half, but few could’ve blamed Curry had he been unleashing some frustration directed at his teammates — many of whom have had a tough time complementing him this season.
“Obviously, with (No.) 30 doing what he does, it really makes everything easier for everyone,” guard Mychal Mulder said. “He really brings the emotion and uplifts the group. That’s something that we needed in that third quarter.”
That corner 3pointer was all Curry needed to return to his dynamic ways. Over the next fourplus minutes, he hit three more 3pointers, four free throws and a layup to put the Warriors up 17 points and ensure that they would sidestep a disappointment against the NBA’s worst team.
Andrew Wiggins finished with 20 points, and Mulder and Jordan Poole added 17 off the bench. The Rockets were held to 32 points in the second half on 25.6% shooting as they endured their sixth loss in seven games.
The question now is whether the Warriors can continue to capitalize on Curry’s brilliance. In a season with so many ups and downs, Curry’s sensational play has been one of the lone constants.
“He’s the greatest shooter of all time,” Poole said of Curry. “You can’t leave him any space. As soon as you do, it gets him going.”