Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Win over OKC reveals silver lining

Curry's absence forced Warriors to play with focus they've lacked

- By Shayna Rubin

In theory, Steph Curry's extended absence could send this Warriors season tumbling into draft lottery land.

By Draymond Green's calculatio­n, Curry generates about 60 points of the Warriors' offense on a nightly basis between his scoring, passing and forcing opposing defenses to make mistakes. That kind of production can't be replaced, and the Warriors (28-26) are a bad losing streak away from the Western Conference's cellar and a winning streak away from a top-five seed. Not an ideal time to be without your best player.

But the Warriors' 141-114 win over Oklahoma City on Monday night revealed a hidden benefit to Curry's absence.

Without Curry, the Warriors absolutely have to play mistake-free, locked-in basketball. They have to play within themselves and by selfimpose­d rules that become a luxury when Curry plays.

Lack of focus has kept the Warriors stuck in the middle of the pack. Now they have to focus.

“With Steph, you don't have to be so on, if that makes sense,” Green said. “You can let the game take

its path and then you can settle the game down. But for the most part, you can just let the game take its path and play off Steph.”

Curry's magic is his ability to erase deficits within a matter of minutes and will the Warriors to wins. Without that luxurious safety net, his teammates have to take special care of leads.

“Steve always calls it organized chaos when Steph is out there, and we don't have that when Steph is out so we have to stay organized,” Green said. “It's hard to have those laws when Steph is here because he can just bail us out and when he's not it's much

tougher to do that.”

If the Warriors can replicate their Monday night performanc­e, they may be able to position themselves well in a jam-packed Western Conference upon Curry's return from a leg sprain that's expected to keep him out for several weeks.

Klay Thompson did his part to make up for Curry's scoring, hitting 12 3-pointers in a 42-point game. Seven of those 3s came in the first half.

“It felt great, but what felt better was the (NBA season-high) 43 team assists we had and only 16 turnovers,” Thompson said. “That was the indicator of how the night went, it has to be the most we had all season and the ball was humming. When we do that, we're our best.

“I'm a huge beneficiar­y of when the ball is moving. What the naysayers say, that's fine, but we have a lot of guys who are greedy and we're not going to quit because our best player is out.”

Twelve of those 43 assists came from Jordan Poole, who had what coach Steve Kerr said was Poole's best game of the year. He's getting defended like Curry and starting to play like Curry with the ball in his hand. That meant seeking out Thompson and his teammates and letting scoring opportunit­ies come to him; he was thinking fast, but played slower and didn't force-feed passes or over-dribble into turnovers.

“He had four turnovers but three of them was understand­ing what was going on in the game and trying to get Klay shots,” Green said. “… I thought he played an incredible game on both sides of the ball.”

Poole's favorite assist: Off an offensive rebound, Poole had a heads-up pass to Kevon Looney under the basket for an easy dunk. In that split second, Thunder guard Josh Giddey was in no man's land on defense, Poole and Looney were on the same page.

 ?? JANE TYSKA — BAY AREA NEWS GROUP ?? The Warriors' Klay Thompson celebrates a 3-point basket in the second quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chase Center in San Francisco.
JANE TYSKA — BAY AREA NEWS GROUP The Warriors' Klay Thompson celebrates a 3-point basket in the second quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chase Center in San Francisco.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States