I’m starting to feel like I’m bad luck for the Golden State Warriors. A Warriors employee suggested exactly that in the Warriors’ locker room after they lost to Orlando in December, partly because he thought that was the first game I’ve covered this season. I had to remind him that no, I was also there for an earlier win against the Cavs … thank you very much.
I’m starting to believe there’s something to that “bad luck” theory now. The Warriors lost to the Lakers in overtime before I left the country for a week. While I was gone, they won four in a row. Then I return to the United States and they lose four of five and Stephen Curry.
Curry reportedly landed on Festus Ezeli’s foot during Wednesday morning’s shootaround and tweaked his right ankle. Yes, THAT right ankle, the one that we’ve been hearing about off and on for years. In Curry’s place to start tonight’s game against the Miami Heat was Jarrett Jack, who has had a very nice season as the first or second guy off the bench. As a starter, he was exposed.
The Heat, visibly angry over their own string of three losses in their last four games and losing to the Warriors at home on Dec. 12, weren’t letting the Warriors guard get past them. Or anyone, really. There was a time early in this game where the Warriors had seven turnovers and the Heat had none, and all that was really left to decide was when LeBron James would notch his 5,000th assist and 20,000th point. Both milestones were achieved early on, to the delight of several high-pitched
Warriors Bron-Bron fans.
Insert Jim Mora joke
All this talk about Golden State cruising to at least a No. 6 seed seems a tad presumptuous now, doesn’t it? The Warriors are only four games ahead of the ninth place team in the West (Portland), and the rest of this month’s schedule is exceedingly difficult.
Jan. 18: @ San Antonio
Jan. 19: @ New Orleans
Jan. 21: vs LA Clippers
Jan. 23: vs Oklahoma City
Jan. 25: @ Chicago
Jan. 26: @ Milwaukee (Monta!)
Jan. 28: @ Toronto
Jan. 29: @ Cleveland
Jan. 31: vs Dallas
Curry’s injury is supposedly on the minor side. The X-rays were negative, although that only means his ankle wasn’t broken. Ligament damage is harder to determine without an MRI and takes longer to heal in some cases than a fracture. Regardless, the Warriors looked downright pathetic without their best player (sorry, David Lee) on the floor. Too easy to defend, as Miami showed with vigor. Jack had decent scoring numbers (16 points on 7-of-14 shooting), but he also 5 turnovers. Klay Thompson looked terrible without his normal distance-shooting running mate (1-for-8, 2 points, 4 turnovers).
I asked the Twitter masses why David Lee was still in the game when the Warriors were down 30 as the third quarter drew to a close, and I got several variations of the response Tim Kawakami sent me: Lee needs his stats because the Warriors want him in the All-Star Game.
But after four losses in their last five, the Warriors can’t think about All-Star appearances. They need wins, and if Curry doesn’t return soon, it’s tough to see them notching even four more of those before February. But even a lackluster night against the defending champs gave Mark Jackson another reason to mention the most important exhibition game in the history of mankind.
“One thing I told them was that they made a heck of a case for Stephen Curry to be in the All-Star game. If we can go from a top notch team to the team that played tonight just with missing one guy, that says a lot about him. We still had a veteran guy in Jarrett Jack and a proven guy in Charles (Jenkins) — across the board we didn’t get it done.”
This has been a fun season so far around here, but Curry’s injury shows how delicately the Warriors are perched when it comes to their spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. If he doesn’t get healthy soon…
– After the game I went into the visiting locker room, because the Heat are only in town once a year and I’ll probably witness another Warriors loss or two before this season ends. Plus, LeBron needed 18 points to reach 20k for his career and passed that mark with no problem in the second quarter (he scored 21 points in the first half). 5,000 assists came even earlier.
– Erik Spoelstra said the Heat had a moment in the locker room to commemorate James’ milestone. When asked what that meant, Spoelstra said they gave him the game ball and then, “Everybody took a shot at him. A punch, a jab, an elbow, whatever they could get in before he started hitting back.”
– Here’s LeBron on whether he knew he was closing in on 20,000 (he did) and how letting his teammates get some shots on him was more about his desire to “fit in” than anything else.
– One way LeBron and his teammate Dwyane Wade don’t want to fit in is when it comes to fashion. LeBron was wearing some tight-fitting gray pants with a black stripe down the sides that looked like a combination of tuxedo slacks and sweats, tucked into black combat boots. Over his black shirt, he wore a blue vest. Wade was wearing violet pants that were tighter than LeBron’s that very well might have been velour (I didn’t see him turn around, so I can neither confirm nor deny that they were made by Juicy Couture). The bottoms of his pants were tucked into some fashionable hi-tops that were probably at least $1,000 (per shoe), and an extremely shiny shirt buttoned to the color that was tucked into the waist of said pants. When you’re rich, famous and extremely good at basketball (and heading to Los Angeles tonight, with a night on the town possibly in their future), you can wear whatever you damn well please.