Stephen Curry was questionable going into Tuesday night’s game, and since they were back home and the opponent was the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference, some questioned whether Curry’s presence was necessary at all. Turns out they needed all 22 points Curry could muster, right down to the three he nailed with 2.2 seconds left to give the Warriors a 98-97 win over the Magic.
Yes, that’s Tobias Harris getting shook. No, Harris shouldn’t have given Curry that much room. However, the Warriors were both lucky and smart on this play. Elfrid Payton drove and barely missed a close shot off the glass (lucky). Curry got the loose ball rebound and didn’t look at the bench (smart, and exactly what his coach wanted).
“I was thinking ‘don’t call timeout.’ Because Steph Curry in the open floor is going to get a better shot than anything we’re going to be able to draw up. I figured he would shoot a three. That’s what Steph does,” Steve Kerr told reporters.
“It took a lot of individual brilliance down the stretch to bail us out. But what I told the team was, we had have that because we didn’t play as a team for the rest of the game. We kind of messed around with the ball early. When you mess around with a game, there’s a karma involved. The game will get you back. We were really lucky to win that game. Steph came up big, Klay hit a couple huge threes and the defense down the stretch — Boges, Andre and Draymond — it was terrific. But we’ve got to do it as a group instead of individually.”
The first game back home after a long road trip is the toughest, as the cliche goes. Golden State probably figured a dominant second quarter was enough to put away a team they squashed in the opening minutes of their first matchup on Wednesday, but Orlando is exactly the kind of team you don’t want to face in this situation.
Actually, Orlando looks like exactly the kind of team you won’t want to face in a year or two, period. Without Nikola Vucevic (back), the Magic used Channing Frye at center quite a bit to pull Andrew Bogut away from the basket. But it was actually Kyle O’Quinn’s shooting that killed the Warriors. Then there was Victor Oladipo, who scored 27 points on 14 shots and made three steals. Payton is a rookie guard with length and flair who can distribute — he and Oladipo are going to be an interesting tandem that’ll give teams fits. And Harris, who was in that unfortunate position of having to guard Curry in the open floor with the game on the line, put up a 17-7-5 line and made a ridiculously tough bank shot in traffic to give the Magic a 97-95 lead.
The Magic really wanted to steal this game on Golden State’s home floor after the Warriors embarrassed them in Orlando, and the Warriors overcame an uneven effort to get the win anyway.
— “I missed two in a row, so I was due,” Curry said about the game-winner. “This was a crazy game. We probably shouldn’t have won, the way we were playing.”
— Fitting that Bogut (five blocks on the night) made inbounding the ball just about impossible, and Draymond Green (great defense down the stretch) knocked O’Quinn’s pass to the backcourt.
— Leandro Barbosa came into the 2013-14 season making at least 32.4% of his threes every season, and usually at a much higher clip than that. Last year he only made 28%, and this season he’s at 19%. Maybe taking a third three-pointer in the same game isn’t the best idea at this point in his career, unless he makes one of the first two.
— The Warriors would’ve lost this game by eight points last season or the year before. Actually, they did lose to the Magic at Oracle by eight points almost two years ago to the day.
— Andre Iguodala contributes quite a bit on the defensive end, but his selflessness on offense has gotten a little ridiculous. It’s like a guy who gets REALLY into his diet and exercise, to the point where it becomes an obsession and he starts looking like an ultra runner with mono. In Iguodala’s world, taking a contested shot is like eating a glazed donut.
— Harrison Barnes had 12 rebounds today — it’s like someone got into his head and told him this was the way to make his mark on this team. It makes sense. He’s a decent defender, but he’ll probably never surpass Iguodala or Green in that area. He’s a decent three-point shooter, but that’ll get ignored on a team with Curry and Thompson. But this team has slipped a little in the rebounding department so far during this ridiculously great 15-2 start to their season, so Barnes could increase his value quite a bit by becoming a 7 rpg guy.
— Tim Roye’s call of Curry’s game-winner is definitely worth a listen. (h/t @SherwoodStrauss)