Draymond Green

Warriors punctuate road trip with Steph-Draymond sorcery

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The Warriors had been on the road for eight days when they straggled into Frost Bank Arena in San Antonio on Sunday. This was the end of a five-game trip, most of it in the eastern time zone, and the fatigue was evident in the first half.

When the frisky young Spurs, with sensational rookie Victor Wembanyama in the middle, shot better and posted a decisive rebounding advantage, the Warriors headed into the locker room to ponder an eight-point deficit.

The halftime pondering, much of it by leaders Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, landed upon highly productive adjustments.

It took a little more than three minutes for the Warriors to go on a 14-0 run, taking a six-point lead they never lost in crafting a 117-113 victory, punctuating the trip with a fourth consecutive win to put them six games over .500 (40-34) for the first time this season.

“We did what we had to do,” Curry said. “The Minnesota game was a tough way to start the trip, with [blowing a lead] in the fourth quarter. We feel like we let one go.

“We responded well. The teams we played, those are the ones that you have to win to keep yourself in the fight. We did that. No style points, really, for any of it. But you get out of here with four wins and keep the momentum rolling.”

Golden State’s third-quarter turnaround, yielding a 37-21 advantage, was a direct result of the long and fruitful symbiotic relationship between Green and Curry.

Green scored nine quick points that gave the Warriors the lead and, moreover, built momentum that carried them through the quarter. His second half: 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds, four steals and a plus-16 over 17 minutes.

“I thought I needed to be aggressive,” Green said on NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Warriors Postgame Live.” “A couple of those [drives] I got turnovers in the first half. Vic was baiting me into passing and then falling back. So, I knew coming out in the second half that if I drove at him, I had to be aggressive, get into his body and negate his shot blocking.

“And then on the defensive end, just doing what I do. Being active.”

Hyperactive, really. Green finished with 21 points, a team-high 11 assists, six rebounds, a season-high six steals and one block. He posted a game-best plus-13 over 32 minutes.

“That was a defensive masterpiece,” coach Steve Kerr said.

“The way Draymond played was unbelievable,” Curry said. “Making his presence felt. He does it on the defensive end, he does it with his matchups, making those extra plays. Even tonight, on the offensive end, being aggressive, taking what the defense gave him. That gave us a huge boost.”

Curry’s second half was no less effective than that of Green, partly because their minutes were almost perfectly aligned and partly because he was the recipient of four of Draymond’s seven assists after halftime.

Playing 17 minutes in the second half, Curry scored 21 of his game-high 33 points, adding five assists, including two to Green.

“His family’s here,” Kerr said. “So, he got to spend Easter with the whole family. They had breakfast with us this morning at the team meal, and I think Steph was really extra motivated to play well in front of his kids and [wife] Ayesha.

“He played a played a great game. There was a lot of pressure on him out there. Tre Jones does a really good job defensively, but he found a way to get free and knocked down some big shots for us.”

This victory, which pushed the Warriors’ edge over the Houston Rockets to two full games in the race for the final berth in the Western Conference play-in tournament, was a Curry-Green production. Others contributed, notably Moses Moody and Trayce Jackson-Davis, but the two veterans fought through fatigue to lead the way.

The Curry-Green sorcery is hand-and-glove, like two longtime dance partners, with either one routinely finishing the basketball sentence started by the other. It’s unmatched in today’s NBA and has been the essential ingredient behind hundreds of Golden State victories over the past 10 seasons.

With two weeks remaining in the 2023-24 NBA season, the playoffs clearly in view and the Rockets trying to pose a threat, Curry and Green came out in the second half with a must-win attitude that permeated the team and made for a delightful trip back to the Bay Area.

“Fantastic trip, particularly after losing the first one in tough fashion,” Kerr said. “For the guys to bounce back in four straight games on the road, it's a sign of their competitiveness and their grit. And even though it wasn't pretty, tonight they got it done.”

Look no further than this game to understand Curry‘s emotional reaction last Tuesday in Miami when Green was ejected from the game. Draymond had left Steph’s hand – and their bond – hanging. Abandoned in a time of need.

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