Los Angeles – The Golden State Warriors didn’t need Stephen Curry to save them as he returned from a left foot injury that had ruled him out for 11 games.
Instead, they wanted him to join them on the momentum they’ve built over the past five games and help them take the next step in building the run they’ve been waiting for all season.
for most of their matinee games against Los Angeles Lakers, It felt like a similar script to many of his recent games: Falling behind early – by 20 on Sunday – then fighting your way back and over the hump. But in the Crypto.com Arena, they fell short, falling 113-105.
Curry’s night showed up to his team. He went scoreless in the first quarter before putting up eight points in the second. Initially the goal was just to allow him to see the ball through the hoop, but he missed his first two wide open looks. He shot only 2-of-7 (1-5 of 3) on uncontested shots.
He again did not record a point in the third period, but then scored 19 in the fourth – the most he had scored in a fourth quarter this season.
Curry said, “I felt like I got stronger as the game went on.” He played 32 minutes, a little more than the 28 minutes the team was hoping to keep him around.
The more luxury there is in adding curry – and Andre Iguodala — go back in the mix and look at the team’s level of play out there, Golden State understands that’s not realistic.
There is still an adjustment period.
“The way the players have been playing the last five games and the stretch at home, it’s going to be a tough transition for everybody,” Curry said. “Just guys trying to keep our rhythm, keep our confidence. That’s our challenge as a team. We have to keep believing in each other because we all aim to win at the highest level.”
Golden State can’t pinpoint exactly why it’s getting off to a slow start or why there’s such a discrepancy in its performance on the road versus home. The Warriors are 27–7 at home – tied for second-most home wins – but only 7–24 elsewhere, tied for third-fewest wins on the road.
Against the Lakers, early fouling was an issue, something that plagued the Warriors early in the season. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that there were also critical stretches throughout the game when the team was careless.
“There’s a stretch … If we could execute we could get some good shots,” Kerr said. “We just didn’t execute. We never got over the hump.”
klay thompson added 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including four 3-pointers, and three other Warriors finished in double digits. Kerr was also pleased with the team’s overall defensive performance. But nothing could be done.
Anthony Davis finished with 39 points for the Lakers on 14 of 25 shooting, including eight rebounds and six assists.
The Warriors’ success on the way forward will be crucial in how they end their season. Ten of their last 17 games have been away from home, and all three of their matchups have been against Western Conference opponents battling for seedings.
This isn’t new territory for the Golden State. And this time of year is usually when the warriors kick into high gear.
There are parallels between what the Warriors are experiencing now and what they went through last season as they made that final push into the playoffs.
Curry was coming off an injury and the team was hoping he would have enough time for everything to click. The Warriors had little playing time last year, with Curry missing the last 11 games of the regular season and not returning until Game 1 of their first round playoff series. This season, the Warriors still have 17 games left before the start of the season.
But last year he started 18-2 — a solid piece of evidence of just how good he can be at full strength. He hasn’t shown that this season.
“We have an outside shot at getting home-court advantage,” Curry said. The Warriors currently sit in the 5-seed, two games behind the Suns and a half game over the Timberwolves.
Curry continued: “It’s weird to say, we’re still trying to win the championship but we’re trying to avoid the play-ins. Both can be true. … As long as we don’t lose, Until then we think we’re in a tough spot.” Matchup for anyone. That’s the confidence we got in the stretch.