Dubs' emotional roller-coaster takes wrong turn before rivalry


Steph Curry when asked Tuesday night how he feels physically after his second game back from an 11-game absence summed it up perfectly. He wished he didn't have to say the second part. 

"Physically feel great, emotionally all over the place," Curry told reporters in Oklahoma City. 

And who can blame him? 

Curry had just watched the Warriors finish a perfect 5-0 homestand at Chase Center. All five wins came with him sidelined and itching to make his return. He was giddy to join a team that appeared to finally be hitting its stride at the perfect time. 

The Warriors ended their homestand four games over .500 for the first time this season. They outscored their opponents by 83 points in the second half, registered a 100.6 defensive rating and dominated third quarters again.

Then Golden State hit the road. 

In his first game back after being out for a month, Curry scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and 27 overall on Sunday. It wasn't enough in a 113-105 loss to the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena.

He scored 26 points in the second half and 40 overall on Tuesday night. Even that wasn't enough in a 137-128 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center. 

Golden State lost its seventh straight road game and fell to 7-25 on the road this season. The defending champions aren't helping themselves out, either. They now haven't held a lead after the first quarter in 10 straight games. They're 0-16 on the road this season when trailing after the first quarter, and 0-19 on the road when being behind after three quarters. 

Their last road win came over a month ago on Jan. 30 in OKC. Games against the Lakers and Thunder were supposed to be chances to build momentum before the real test. 

"Always confident, because that's why we show up," Curry said. "But you'd like to have something to show for it at some point. We got another opportunity on Thursday against a great team that's probably going to be a wild atmosphere and we got to be ready for it.

"Confidence never wavers. It's just frustrating at times when you can't get it done, and says something that, 'Yeah, we know how to win on the road' with this particular team. We got another opportunity."

That opportunity, that great team, that wild atmosphere Curry is talking about comes against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. With or without Ja Morant, this figures to be an electric battle that will have the basketball world on the edge of their seats. If the season ended Wednesday, the growing rivals would play each other in the first round. 

"Whoop That Trick" will be blasted over the in-arena speakers. Bad blood will be seen and felt. The Warriors have beat the Grizzlies in both of their contests with them this season, but both games were held in San Francisco. 

Referees will be on red alert, waiting for their chance to blow the whistle whenever a player dares to cross the line. Draymond Green has 15 technical fouls, and Jordan Poole now has 12 after a bizarre one called in Oklahoma City. Remember, 16 technical fouls result in a one-game suspension. 

At this point in the season, the Warriors can't afford to lose Green for a game. They also can't afford him to pull off the kind of antics he did at the end of the first half against the Thunder. 

With the Warriors down by one, 65-64, in the final minute of the first half, Poole drove to the basket and briefly lost his handles. Aaron Wiggins ran to the 3-point line to help on Klay Thompson, leaving a hole in the middle of the paint. Green cut but Poole didn't see him in time, prompting the four-time champion to react how a teammate never should. 

He jumped up and down. He threw up his hands in frustration. The worst part was Green turned his back on the play, missing a turnover, not from Poole, off a pass thrown in his direction. 

"I felt we were a little disconnected in the first half, several times and so we talked about that at halftime," Kerr told reporters in Oklahoma City. "Tried to get back out there and compete in the second half. But there definitely was a disconnect in the first half and that cost us."

Draymond's display was more than disconnection. It's inexcusable. How would he have reacted if a teammate did that to him in the middle of a game? We already know about his infamous in-game spat with Kevin Durant years ago.

The 33-year-old is in his 11th season, and is supposed to be the defensive heartbeat. Instead, he didn't run back at all. Green and the Warriors are extremely lucky with what happened next. 

As his teammates battled back, the Thunder missed four chances right at the rim to score. All while Green pouted on the other side of the court. 

"I know how fragile this business is, and how it can be taken away from you in an instant," Klay Thompson said. "It's important just to realize that it's a privilege just to be out there and it's our dreams, our childhood dreams. I can do a better job being more vocal and keeping the team connected, especially early. 

"I do not feel like I did a good job of that tonight, so on Thursday in Memphis -- I will do that."

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Maybe that's the kind of reminder these Warriors need while trying to make another title run. Maybe an unexpected voice like Thompson's is what will serve them best right now. 

The Warriors have 16 games left. Only two of those, the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, are against teams that aren't in the playoff or play-in tournament race. This season undoubtedly has been an emotional roller coaster. The trajectory hit a new high before heading on the road. 

The cart is speeding straight down right now, with an emotional lift, or letdown, waiting for them in Memphis.

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