Stephen Curry gets angry, then even gets in a rush
LOS ANGELES – This time Stephen Curry liked what the sound of the whistle meant.
The Golden State Warriors star scored another 3 points, his seventh and ultimately his last of the day. And by this point, LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue had seen too much. Long before the Warriors’ 105-90 win over the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center became official, Lue requested a time out.
Curry had just given the Warriors a 95-77 lead with 5:20 remaining, having scored nine points in 75 seconds. After almost sitting on a fan in the field, Curry stood up and pressed his right hand against his left fingers to form a “T”.
Given Curry’s state of emotions, the gesture could have meant two things: 1) Did Curry just illustrate with body language that Lue called a time out? 2) Or did Curry make fun of an official with the gesture, after committing a technical foul moments earlier?
âYou can decide,â Curry said with a smile afterward. “Open for interpretation.”
Which is not open to interpretation: many performances by Curry in points (33), shots from the field (12 for 22) and 3 points (7 for 13) as well as assists (six) and the interceptions (six) all went back to playing with an edge.
He became irritated earlier in the fourth, when officials didn’t call for a foul with 9:07 left, after making contact with Clippers forward Terance Mann. With the Warriors holding a 79-70 lead, rushing to a quick 2-1 break, Otto Porter Jr. connected a pass to Curry near the basket. Curry rose for a sneaky straight layup, and Mann leapt up, making contact with Curry’s right shoulder and arm; he fell to the ground without hearing a hiss.
Curry loomed up from the ground, raising his right arm towards the official. He screamed for a foul, adding a few curses, and quickly received the technique. Even after his Warriors teammate Juan Toscano-Anderson pulled Curry away from the official, he returned to the half court while expressing his displeasure.
âI thought I was the victim of a foul,â said Curry. âSo I let go of my emotions. It definitely motivated me and motivated our team. “
Curry also seemed excited to show that he could be good at defense as well. After criticizing his defense for most of his 13-year NBA career, Curry impressed the Warriors so much with his six interceptions, eight deflections, and overall restlessness that they acknowledged seeing him more as a defensive asset than disabilities.
âHe’s one of the best defensemen we have on our squad now,â said Warriors forward Draymond Green, who could earn his second Defensive Player of the Year honor this season. âIt’s beautiful to watch. When you give him the kind of effort he’s giving on this side of the pitch, everyone has to follow. It makes our defense much better.
The other thing that makes the Warriors better?
Curry led the Warriors (18-2) to the best NBA record, not just because of his marksmanship, effort and basketball IQ. Curry knows how to play with an advantage. Curry knows how to play with anger. He may have cemented himself as a generational talent who plays joy and gives others around him positive reinforcement. Yet Curry is also playing with a chip on his shoulder after being overlooked as a high school prospect, an undersized college phenomenon and injury-riddled player early in his NBA career.
Since collecting three NBA titles and breaking numerous shooting records, Curry has played with both an inner confidence in his skills and an inferiority complex to ensure they never erode. So, while Curry often smiles and isn’t consumed with pettiness, press his buttons at your own risk.
The Warriors, Clippers and officials have all recognized the fury of a patient man.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen him live,” said third-year Warriors goaltender Jordan Poole. “I’ve seen him throw a mouthpiece before, but I haven’t seen it live.”
Curry inadvertently threw his mouthpiece at a fan after he got angry with an offensive call in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Curry also inadvertently threw his mouthpiece at an official in the last minute of the regular season loss to Memphis in 2017-18 after arguing that Mike Conley fouled him during a layup attempt. The NBA fined Curry for both incidents in the NBA Finals ($ 25,000) and the 2017-18 regular season game ($ 25,000). The Warriors also conceded whenever Curry should have handled his emotions better.
This time? The Warriors justified Curry’s behavior.
âIt was awesome and deserved,â Green said. “Have you seen the play?” “
The Warriors certainly did.
âHe was clearly the victim of a foul,â Kerr said. âSteph is a guy who is so competitive. When he knows he’s been fouled, especially on a game like this in transition where it’s easy to see and he doesn’t get the call? From time to time, it will crack. He doesn’t do it often. When he knows he is right, the competitor in him always comes out. He’s going to lose his mind a little. But it often annoys him as it did in this case.
The Warriors predicted this would happen. They have already seen Curry score 13 points in the first half while going 3 for 7 through the pool. They’ve seen Curry score another seven points in the third quarter. And given Curry’s career history, Kerr observed that his score blasts “can come out of the blue.”
But after Curry’s explosion against the officials? They felt it would not be random. Consider what Green said to Poole shortly after Curry collected the technique. âHe’s about to put one on,â Green said. Curry used more than one.
He scored 11 points on 4 of 5 shots after the technique. It could have been more if the officials hadn’t called Nemanja Bjelica for an offensive foul just as Curry drilled a corner 3 on the possession that followed. The official debut would follow soon: Curry made a 33-foot atop the wrench on one play. On another play, Curry took off from a pick-and-roll and sank a 27-foot. And then on a quick break, Curry passed Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe before sinking a 3 corner. This play prompted Lue to call the time out. This piece prompted Curry to launch his own “T” sign.
âI laughed afterwards,â Curry said. âIt’s competition. It’s the intensity. It’s desire because I want it so badly. You find yourself in certain situations, where you know it’s a play-off type atmosphere and it’s a âgrind it outâ type of atmosphere. Everything you need to get there. Once the spark is ignited and I let the emotions fly? As long as it lasts, as soon as there is a moment or an intentional voice in your head, then you are fine. Let’s play basketball. I like to control this moment. If you don’t, it causes you to do something other than what you’re supposed to be doing there and you overdo it.
Curry has rarely wrestled in this department offensively. He’s now tied for the league lead in points per game (28.6), joining Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant at the top of the pack. He passed Scottie Pippen for 62nd place on the NBA’s all-time scorers list with 18,945 points. And now, with 105 3 points in 19 games this season, Curry has eclipsed his own record of 100 3 in 20 games, achieved in the 2015-16 and 18-19 seasons.
What about defense, though? The Warriors admitted that Curry had exaggerated things.
âHe used to achieve a lot,â Green said. âHe would be in a great position to reach and commit a foul. We used to harass him and say, ‘Stop reaching; stop reaching.
The Warriors don’t say that anymore. Over the past two years, they’ve portrayed him as an underrated defenseman who has used his basketball intelligence, effort, and chip on his shoulder to prove he can defend, too.
âHe’s been great defensively all year,â said Kerr. âI hope people recognize it. Everyone is obviously focused on his offensive shine, as it should be. But he’s had six interceptions, eight deflections and all over the place. For some reason, he has a reputation for being a bad defender. I don’t see that at all. I think he’s a very good defender. He’s been great defensively all year this year.
The scans could still portray Curry as a bad defender. Those numbers could be enough to undermine Curry’s hopes of forming an All-Defensive squad. But that doesn’t mean Curry is a weak link.
Green described Curry as “one of the strongest guys on the team right now” due to the dedicated discipline in the weight room. Consider how Curry played with such an advantage and such a goal against the Clippers.
He recorded his six steals by disrupting passing lanes instead of just playing. He converted one of those steals into a quick layup. And he channeled defenders to Green and Kevon Looney.
âI know my job looks a lot better when you have Draymond and Loon behind you,â Curry said. âIf I do my part, good things happen. “
As the Warriors, Clippers and officials witnessed on Sunday, good things also happen for Curry when he gets angry. This should leave the Warriors happy and their opponents terrified.
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