Steph’s sermon to himself, Dubs resonated in win vs. Wizards originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area
Stephen Curry’s words were honest and direct and necessary for the good of the Warriors. He could not have known how impactful his Sunday sermon di lui would be, but there was no doubting his intent or determination di lui to personify it.
One day after pressing the Warriors to play with more focusintelligence, and tenacity, Curry exhibited all three characteristics to produce the desired result.
He scored a game-high 41 points, including 12 in the final seven minutes Monday afternoon to power a comeback that pushed the Warriors to a 127-118 victory over the wizards.
“It’s whatever it takes at this point,” Curry said on NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Warriors Postgame Live,” after Monday’s win. “For us to try to right the ship and get some good momentum, good energy, around our team and an understanding of how to win games on the road.”
It was after a spirit-sapping 132-118 loss to the Bulls on Sunday afternoon in Chicago that Curry went to the podium and prodded himself and his teammates to be better. There was a sprinkling of frustration in his tone, but his mood expressed conviction with a splash of defiance.
In short: If we don’t get serious, we’re not a contender.
The message stuck. The Warriors brought attitude to the chins of the Wizards when it mattered most, in the fourth quarter with the game at stake. Golden State defended with searing intensity – with Draymond Green as the catalyst – while Curry and Green carried the offense.
“Steph and Draymond led the way,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Steph was incredible down the stretch with his shot-making, and Draymond with his defense and playmaking. Everybody out there was battling in the fourth quarter.”
Green’s 11 points, on 4-of-4 shooting, including two triples, represented a man on a mission. He was inspired by a mouthy fan sitting near the bench, but he was the beneficiary of Curry’s presence.
“Teams are always going to help off me, so it was good to see those two 3s go down,” Green said. “They were all worried about Steph, so I got the open layup – wide open layup – and then I got the dive down in the paint and the dive when I got fouled. That’s the weight that Steph carries.”
Aside from a two-minute stretch when Curry scored eight points, his first half was uneven. He scored 21 points largely because he was 9-of-10 from the line; he was 5-of-13 from the field. It was Jordan Poole, with 26 first-half points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, including 5-of-8 from deep, that kept the Warriors from getting buried.
“JP really helped us stay in the game in the first half,” Kerr said. “And as Steph has done so often, he carried us home.”
The moment of clarity for Curry and the Warriors came with 9:31 remaining. The Wizards had opened the fourth quarter with a 13-5 run, taking a 106-98 lead. For Curry and Green, fully aware of their 4-17 road record, it was “go time” or fold time.
They opted for the former. Taking the lead on a step-back jumper by Curry with 5:54 remaining, the Warriors closed with a rush, outscoring the Wizards 29-12 over the final 8:40. Golden State committed two turnovers, while forcing five from Washington.
“Draymond was unbelievable in fourth quarter, two big 3s,” Curry said. “Jordan in the first half kept us alive with great minutes and hit some big shots down the stretch.
“Collectively, we had a little more composure down the stretch, a little bit more intelligence on how to win, how to finish the game. And not get rattled when they went on a run.”
Intelligence. Finishing ability. Composition. The Warriors over the final nine minutes followed the script of Curry’s sermon from the previous day. His words caught their ears – and his own ears.
Though it was successful on this day, falling behind a mediocre team and coming back to get the victory is not a sustainable formula.
“This was a big win,” Kerr said. “When you’re .500, every win is a big win. But we know we’ve got a really tough back-to-back coming up to finish this trip.”
Next up are the Celtics – whose 33-12 record is the best in the NBA – on Thursday in Boston, followed by the Cavaliers (28-17) on Friday in Cleveland.
The Warriors can’t take the energy they showed on Monday, but if their performance was enough to reinforce the point of Curry’s script. If they consistently follow it, they’ll give themselves a chance, no matter the opponent.