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Here is a link to my Friday column about Game 6 between the Warriors and Clippers, and Stephen Curry. The full text runs below. I’m flying back down to LA on Friday. It feels like I live in LA.

OAKLAND — The Warriors won because of Stephen Curry. He wasn’t the only reason. But he was the big reason.

What they won with their 100-99 victory over the Clippers was a seventh game, a do-or-die, loser-goes-home game in L.A. Saturday to end one of the strangest playoff series in the history of the NBA.

In the entire history of sports, for that matter.

The series has involved secret tapes showing Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling is a racist, his girlfriend coyly apologizing for her dark skin color.Sterling putting down African-Americans. Sterling a bigot and an old fool.

The series has involved teams almost not playing in protest and teams wearing black socks in protest, and it involved the commissioner banning Sterling for life in three days.

The series also has involved basketball. To an extent. The basketball came and went and sometimes was the secondary storyline.

But on Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the sold-out arena the Warriors want to dump, Curry played like a star. He had not always done that.

He also had come and gone in this series, dominating some games, being passive and small in others. What would he do in Game 6, a game the Warriors had to win to save their season?

He scored 14 points in the first quarter, 18 in the first half, getting off that lightning-release jumper, and you realized he was the best player on the floor. He can be the best when things go right for him.

He needs things to go right, the floor spacing perfect, his teammates making screens for him, breaking him free.

If he had failed, the Warriors would have failed. He ended up with 24 points.

Before the game, Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers, so honest, explained what makes Curry almost impossible to guard:

Q: “Why can you slow down Stephen Curry some nights and not others?”

Rivers: “Because he’s Stephen Curry. He’s really good. Sometimes, I think we slow him down. Sometimes, I think he becomes human and he misses shots. He’s one of the greatest shooters I’ve ever seen. We’re trying to just keep a big body in his face every time, but when he gets loose, especially in transition, he’s deadly. We’ve limited our turnovers for the most part, and it seems like we’ve done them in bunches in this series, and that’s when they make runs.

“But he’s just a very difficult guy to guard. It would be easier if he couldn’t dribble, but the guy can shoot and dribble, and that’s what makes him so good. And he can come off picks without the ball, so he’s just a very difficult guy to game plan for.”

Rivers was more complimentary of Curry than Mark Jackson was. Strange.

Before the game, I asked Jackson why Curry doesn’t take over all the games, why he passes and sometimes acts, well, passive as he did in Game 5 which the Warriors lost.

I said superstars take over in big games. I said Michael Jordan wouldn’t keep passing the ball to teammates in a playoff series.

At a certain point he’d say, “Give me the damn ball.” I didn’t use the word “damn” with Jackson.

“I appreciate that question,” Jackson said, “but this just in. Steph Curry is not Michael Jordan.”

“He’s your Michael Jordan,” I said.

“He’s not my Michael Jordan. He’s not anybody’s Michael Jordan. I love him to death and he’s a heck of a basketball player. At the end of the day, Michael Jordan is 6-foot-7, freak athlete, tremendous strength, cat like quickness, the ability to maneuver, get to his spots and, in spite of great defense, shoot over them.

“Steph Curry is being trapped by a 7-foot freak athlete in (DeAndre) Jordan or a 6-foot-10 freak athlete in Blake (Griffin) along with a big time defender at the point guard position, (Chris) Paul and whoever. There are times he’s going to be aggressive. Then there are times he’s going to look to make plays. I would argue the case that being too aggressive can force turnovers also. So he’s got to use wisdom, and I have confidence that he’ll do just that.”

On Thursday, Curry used wisdom. He got his points and he got his assists — nine — and controlled the rhythm of the game.

There was the time in the third quarter he drove to the hoop, spotted Draymond Green on the side, beyond the 3-point line, lined him a pass and Green, as alone as an island, measured the shot for about a century and hit nothing but net.

There was the time in the fourth quarter when Curry drove the lane, through every Clippers player, and flipped ball in hoop as smooth as you please. The Warriors went up by six.

Compare Curry to Blake Griffin who labored for his shots, fought against double and triple teams, sometimes lost the ball, tried to bank the ball off the glass and mostly hit iron and saw the ball roll into free air.

Finally, frustrated, he fouled out. It was a case of one superstar — Griffin — flaming out, and the other — Curry — setting the world on fire.

There are games when Curry is the best. There are games — and there will be games — when he vanishes. It’s who he is, what he does. On Thursday, he wasn’t Michael Jordan. Being Stephen Curry was enough.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

 

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Comments

11 Comments

  1. Streetglide

    Does this mean we have to continue to wait until Lowell-san writes about real sports? Rats…

    May 2nd, 2014 6:27 am

  2. Ben

    Love, love, love Curry. But If you ask me, Draymond Green won this one. Not that either of us is really right… it takes a village and all… but DG rendered Blake Griffin mostly ineffective all game. With a typical scoring night from him, the Clippers win that game easily.

    May 2nd, 2014 8:13 am

  3. Dave T

    Gritty, tough and not a very pretty game to watch at times, but the Warriors found a way to make just enough plays to get it done. Looking forward to more of the same in game 7.

    Lowell, any change the Association takes a look at the Glen Davis play and takes action? Curious on your take on that play.

    May 2nd, 2014 10:02 am

  4. chris

    Lowell, after Jackson said his team should take what the defense gives them rather than impose their will on the Clippers I was thinking…….wrong answer. And then when you called Jackson out by saying that the great teams with great players like Michael Jordan take over games and that the Warriors should do that I thought brilliant question. But Jackson avoided answering it by hiding behind Michael Jordan……..if you had left out Michael Jordan’s name in the question it woulduv been a much tougher answer for Jackson……it did seem the Warriors won game 6 by taking over the game with Curry’s 14 points in the first quarter and Draymond Greens rebounding…….put those two players together and the Warriors got a Michael Jordan like performance for the win.

    May 2nd, 2014 10:08 am

  5. CohnZohn

    Dave T, the play happened at the other end of the court from where I sit, plus we don’t get replay.

    May 2nd, 2014 10:22 am

  6. Stan

    I’m on a record as calling game a six win. Game 7? If the Warriors play a bad first quarter? Its a sure loss. They might be only down a handful of points,but if they go there playing badly?..it’s a loss.
    This team all year has rollercoasted. A bad start on the road is sure death. The Warriors OWN the Clippers and Blake if they run.run.run..and double cover. Look at that big loss to Miami this year at home,Jackson refused to doublecover James. Has Jackson learned? I think he has. I give him that.
    And lastly Griffin is no Karl Malone. He cant jump shoot,and he can really cough that ball up. He fouls out more then any other star NBA player I know of. Jackson knows what to call for.

    May 2nd, 2014 11:34 am

  7. Dennis

    I agree with Ben’s comment about Draymond Green. I see the team taking on his battling, hustling, tough attitude. I think he has had a bigger impact on the identity of this team than any other player.

    I also agree with Jackson; it is not fair to compare any player in the league today to Michael Jordan. No one, not even LaBron, can take over a game, at will, like Jordan could.

    May 2nd, 2014 11:56 am

  8. dharte

    Lowell,

    Could you find out what in the hell happened to Festus Ezeli? I’m amazed that his disappearing act isn’t getting more press. Ezeli was a strong bench player as a rookie, in many ways the equal to Draymond Green, and it’s been almost a year since he had surgery to “strengthen” two knee ligaments, yet he is sitting out this series in a nice range of suits.

    No ligaments were torn from what I understand, so it is bizarre that eleven months later he still cannot play.

    Either he did not take the rehab seriously for these last eleven months that he’s been cashing checks, or the Warriors need to find new surgeon and perhaps a new trainer. Now if they had Ezeli, the player who gave Denver fits at times last year in the playoffs, the odds of extending this season would be much better tonight. Without him, Jackson has Mo Speights and two stiffs more prepared for Santa Cruz than the Staples Center.

    Pathetic. Please ask Joe Lacob, who seems to believe the team Bob Myers “built” is ready to challenge for a title, why in god’s name a “strengthening” surgery required a 12 month (& counting) rehab period.

    Then perhaps you can ask him how Jackson was supposed to win with Mo Speights, Jordan Crawford, the European Derrick Rose, or some 7′ white ghost who never seems to leave the bench.

    Bob Myers needs to go back to his law practice and negotiate contracts. Just give the keys to Jerry West and get out of his way, Joe….

    May 3rd, 2014 10:14 am

  9. Dr. Feelgood

    Back to the Jackson question- Yes or No for 2015?
    10 days ago I believed if W’s took the Clippers to seven games, he would be back.
    Today, I think he HAS to win.

    May 3rd, 2014 1:53 pm

  10. Streetglide

    Totally OT and if it doesn’t show up I’m okay with that but thank you Jim Brown:

    http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/10877754/jim-brown-calls-ncaa-most-reprehensible-organization-god-ever-created

    May 3rd, 2014 2:48 pm

  11. Stan

    Jackson sidestepped your question. You should have said,”Back to my point- why can’t he stop being passive?” That’s what happens. He starts shaking his head,dropping his head..and what I can’t stand,bad basketball fundamentals..choreographed passes ( I get tired of writing the usual terms) that also seem to badly timed this series. Curry,was the sole cause of Clipper comebacks just as it seemed the Warriors were pulling away. He’s been picked from behind ONE ON ONE..wasn’t even a double team. How could he not be aware so late in a game?
    I notice today’s Merc/BANG compared Curry to Paul by stat. Scoring,assists. They didn’t use turnovers…c’mon,that’s homer-ism sports at its worst.

    May 3rd, 2014 4:37 pm

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