Sequels generally are associated with the movie industry, but Stephen Curry saved the Warriors Friday night by producing one in Sacramento.
The last time Curry stepped onto the Golden 1 Center court was on April 30 for Game 7 of the Warriors-Kings first-round NBA playoff series. He scored 50 points, single-handedly willing his team to a win that vanquished the Kings, crushed their fans and turned off their beloved beam.
Curry gave Sacramento Part II Friday night, and this show was nearly as spectacular as the original.
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With his teammates again foundering about for much of the night – which could be a theme until the Warriors find cohesion – Curry took it upon himself to seize the game at every critical moment to lead a 122-114 victory.
“That dude never fails to amaze me as much as everybody else,” guard Moses Moody, who scored finished with 10 points and three steals, said on the postgame radio show.
Kings guard De’Aaron Fox was among those who tried to slow Curry and got nowhere.
“Ask anybody. It’s almost impossible – unless you’re blocking his shot, which is hard to do,” Fox told reporters. “Once his shot starts going in, you just try to make it tough for him, get the ball out of his hands. Something. But that’s a difficult thing to do, especially once he has it rolling.”
Golden State Warriors
Curry’s game-high 41 points, on 14-of-19 shooting from the field, including 7-of-10 from distance, are but clues to the story. His timing was exquisite.
When no other Warrior had more than seven points in the first half, Curry’s 18 kept them afloat. That allowed Golden State to take a 60-57 advantage into the locker room.
While Curry teammates were contributing seven points in the first seven-plus minutes of the third quarter, Curry was piling up 16. Suddenly, the Warriors were up 10 with 4:52 left in the quarter.
And when the Kings made an impressive fourth-quarter surge – thanks largely to the Warriors unveiling their inner sloppiness with eight of their 19 turnovers – Curry drilled a triple with 43.4 seconds for a 120-112 lead that closed it out.
“I tell people all the time, I used to be the one that had to guard him,” Chris Paul, who finished with 10 points, 12 assists and three steals, told reporters in Sacramento. “So, when (defenders) are out there and fouling and holding him, I’m telling (the refs) they’re fouling him.
“But he’s so unselfish. Plays the right way. And we needed it tonight.”
As the Warriors navigate the early weeks of the season, there are bound to be other nights when they’ll have to lean on Curry.
“We’re still learning, as you could see at the end of the game,” Paul said. “But we want to win and learn at the same time.”
Rough moments, however, are unavoidable. Paul, shooting 9-of-27 through the first two games, is new to the system and concedes full assimilation requires time. Andrew Wiggins is 9-of-25 from the field through the first two games. Klay Thompson, after shooting poorly on opening night, put in 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and might be working his way toward consistency.
Meanwhile, Curry is shooting 22-of-39 (56.4 percent) from the field and 11-of-24 (45.8) from beyond the arc. Until the rest of the gang comes along, he will have to be this team’s rock.
“He puts the work in,” Moody said. “He amazes me just as much in practice. He’s not taking breaks. He’s preparing to be great. I’m just blessed to get the opportunity to see it day in and day out – not just in the games.”
Warriors-Kings now have something approaching a rivalry. There is no real animosity, but the competition is fierce. Moreover, the fan bases kick up the intensity when the teams play. Golden 1 can be particularly ferocious when the Warriors come to town.
Curry seems to enjoy the environment.
“They got great popcorn,” he said. “Shout out to them to make me feel good before the game. I got a big bucket right here. Makes me happy, so that might carry over to the court.”
Maybe. Steph had better be careful. The folks at Golden 1 might get word of this and change the popcorn recipe.