Kendra AndrewsESPN3 minute read
SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry brought the ball into midfield with Milwaukee Bucks’ Jevon Carter right in the face. Curry sped up and then quickly stopped at the top of the 3-point arc, skidding Carter a few yards.
Curry had just enough space to throw a 3. Bang.
The shot tied the Warriors’ game against Milwaukee with 19 seconds left in regulation time. And Curry was mean as he made his way to the bench – the stoic look never leaving his face after that.
“I was tired,” Curry said. “Walk slowly to the bench, enjoy the full three-minute timeout. Don’t shout because it requires oxygen. Conserve energy.”
Curry scored 36 points on Saturday, powering the Warriors for their 125-116 overtime victory. Twenty-two of his points came in the fourth quarter and overtime — on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-7 on 3-pointers. He scored 11 points in the final two minutes of regulation time (all but two of his fourth quarter points).
But arguably his most important play came 17 seconds after his 3 tied the game. With 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation time, Jrue Holiday blew past Donte DiVincenzo. It looked like he had an open path to the hoop. But as he got up to shoot a float, Curry met him at the top, blocking his shot.
“When you [make] a few big hits down the straight and then you find yourself in a position to make a play on the other side, I think that gives everyone a good boost,” Curry said. I think I got more compliments on that in the locker room than any shot I made tonight.”
“It was great to see him use the rules of verticality and get that block,” Draymond Green said.
It was Curry’s first block in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime of his career in the regular season (he did it once in the playoffs).
“Steph was amazing, and he did it against one of the great defensemen in Jrue Holiday,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s amazing to watch these two guys fight. Steph is fearless. It doesn’t matter if it’s a slow start or he hasn’t made much progress, he can ignite at any moment.”
Golden State had a 13-point lead with 8:22 left in the third quarter. By the time there were two minutes left in the fourth, they were trailing by eight. Curry was on the bench for most of that streak. Kerr said he looked tired and wanted to save Curry’s energy for the home stretch.
“It’s the challenge of bringing the execution and the focus,” Curry said. “Even when things aren’t going your way — that fourth quarter where they take an eight-point lead — and you slowly take them down, that’s the belief you have to have that we can do it.”
That’s when Curry left.
Curry scored 15 of his 36 points in clutch time, outscoring the Bucks 15-11 on his own. Fifteen clutch time points are tied for fourth most by any player this season. He is also tied for the most in a game of his career.
Golden State also beefed up its defense in the aftermath, contesting at a high pace and forcing five turnovers in Milwaukee. Kerr opted to close with the starting lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, DiVincenzo, Green and Kevon Looney – in part because of the defense the group was playing, while capitalizing on offensive opportunities.
“We came out with a defensive mindset,” Green said. “When you defend, you give yourself a chance to win.
“You’re not defending, it’s a dice game. … If you’re not defending, all your shots are hard. You’re playing against a set defense every game. It starts with defending for us and we were able to establish this tonight.”
The win came in the Warriors’ opener of their three-game home stint and after three road losses. Golden State is now on a seven-game winning streak at home, as they have lost eight straight away from Chase Center.
The Warriors know they have to find the magic they have at home on the road. Curry called it a “revolving door,” where the Warriors look like they’re ready to make the run they’ve been waiting for, only to lose it the following night.
But they start playing with the confidence to get there.
“Championship stuff,” Kerr said of how the Warriors closed out the game. “They are the team that have won four titles. They know how to do it. They did it tonight against probably the best team in the league.”