Curry stays hot, buries Nuggets

The last time the Warriors faced off with the Nuggets, Golden State managed just 81 points. Monday night, they were to 64 by halftime.

Last time, they hit a grand total of three 3-pointers. Monday, they hit four in the opening five minutes.

Last time, they didn’t have Stephen Curry. Monday, the two-time MVP scored 32 to lead the Warriors (33-8) to a 124-114 victory over Denver (21-19) at Oracle Arena.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

He scored those points while also doing disrespectful things like this:

Curry has been playing at the MVP-level since he returned from his ankle injury. In the five games since his return he has averaged 35.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 57 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3.

But he hasn’t been doing it alone as Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have each been stellar as well. Thompson finished with 19 points and five rebounds, and Green poured in 23 points with five boards, 10 assists and three blocks, while missing just four shots.

Head coach Steve Kerr said Green is great at reading what the game needs from him:

“There’s games when he might take two shots and we’re fine. Some games call for more scoring and tonight was one of those. I thought they did a good job of taking Steph and Klay away on screens. … Draymond hit a couple floaters and found a couple guys for long 3-point shots, and he’s great when he can play-make in the paint like that.”

It might, however, be more accurate to say Draymond and Klay aren’t necessarily helping Curry out, but Curry helping them. While Curry was out Green struggled offensively, shooting just 42 percent from the field and a horrid 22 percent from deep. In the five games Curry’s been back? Bump those numbers up to 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3.

It’s the same for Thompson, too. Without Curry: 44 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3. With Curry: 46 percent from the field, 47 percent from 3.

Green said that putting the stats aside, just Curry’s presence on the court helps:

“Even if he didn’t have 32 points and nine assists, what he brings to our offense and all the attention that he draws that gets me open shots. He creates a lot of mismatches on the floor for the defense, which allows the game to be easier for a lot of us. It still showed up in the stats tonight but even if it doesn’t he [just has] an impact on the floor.”

It was a struggle to watch the Warriors offense with Curry on the sidelines. But since he’s been back, it has unleashed its stagnant ways.

They were anything but stagnant, dishing out 33 assists, although Kerr probably wishes they were a little more stagnant on one specific play, when Green passed up a wide open transition layup to kick out to Curry for 3, which he missed.

Curry said that was mostly on him:

“I told him after that possession that I messed him up because I was real thirsty on that possession. I put my hands up like pass me the ball for no reason because he had a wide open layup. … Once he saw my hands go up and knew that I had made a couple shots before that just planted the seed. And it was all disaster from there. I got to do my part, if he’s going to trust me that much to shoot a terrible shot like that I have to make it. Really that’s all on me.”

And this wasn’t even Golden State’s final form. Kevin Durant continues to be hampered by his right calf strain causing him to miss a third straight game. Total the Warriors have now won 22 of the 23 games that Durant has missed this season.

But even without their other MVP, the Warriors are getting enough from the bench, and factoring in the Curry-boost are more than fine without him.

Plus his absence allows Andre Iguodala to find his rhythm as he’s looked out of sorts all season. He even hit his first 3 Monday since December 18. Something that could be chalked up the the Curry-boost.

Up Next

The Warriors will get a days rest before they host the Los Angeles Clippers (17-21) Wednesday. It’ll be the second time in three games these two teams have met, with the Warriors getting the better in the first, 121-105 Saturday in Staples Center.

Notes

Draymond Green was fined $25,000 before the game for publicly criticizing referees after the Warriors win over the Clippers Saturday. Green got his 11th technical foul of the season during the game and suggested after the game that the refs personal vendettas against players are ruining the game. Adding that the NBA should replace all of them. Green has now racked up $50,000 worth of fines this season, as he as fined another $25,000 for an on-court altercation with Bradley Beal earlier in the season. … David West appeared in his 1000 career game Monday and scored in double figures for the third-straight game.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.