Here is a link to my Monday column about the Warriors win over the Clippers and about Stephen Curry’s great shot. The full text runs below:
Even after the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was misinformed.
After the Warriors beat the Clippers 106-98, Kerr didn’t know what happened on one Stephen Curry 3-pointer that blew Kerr’s mind, blew the collective mind of fans in Oracle Arena and probably blew the minds of all people watching on national TV.
The official game notes read: “Curry 3 PT 26’ Step Back Jump Shot.” Talk about an understatement. For starters, the shot put the Warriors ahead by 13 at 8.44 of the third quarter. It helped bury the Clippers.
And Curry performed no mere step back. He got the ball, turned away from the basket, executed a behind-the-back dribble that left Chris Paul in San Leandro, dribbled through Paul, Spencer Hawes and DeAndre Jordan, turned back to the hoop and threw the ball at the rim. Imagine a man shooting a ball through the trees across a moat and over a castle wall. That’s the degree of difficulty of that shot. And it went in.
During the entire process, Kerr went nuts. Afterward, I asked Kerr, “Could you take us through your experience of that because they showed it about 1,000 times on TV. You seemed chagrined and then gratified.”
“Chagrined and gratified?” Kerr laughed. “That pretty much sums it up. I think there were nine seconds on the shot clock when he took the shot. It looked like — maybe I’m wrong — it looked like Steph thought there was one second on the clock the way he shot it. I’m yelling, ‘Plenty of time, plenty of time,’ and he throws the ball up. And like, ‘What are you … good job. Good work.”
During the first part of Curry’s display — the dribbling, the shooting over everyone — Kerr threw his arms in the air. Like, what a dumb shot. When the ball went in, Kerr raised his arms to the heavens, seemed to mean, “I’m a dope ever to doubt that guy.”
Here’s the key point to remember from Kerr’s narration. He assumed, even after the game, Curry took the shot out of desperation because Curry thought time was running out. When Kerr yelled plenty of time, Curry may have heard. “Time!!!!!!” and heaved the ball. Kerr was giving Curry an excuse.
Listen to Curry. “I just came off the (Andrew) Bogut handoff and saw a bunch of bodies and started messing around with the ball and, once I got through the traffic, I don’t know, I thought about shooting it. I guess I got a little bit of breathing room. I had a clean bounce on that last dribble where I was able to turn around and find the rim and knock it down. Thankfully, I didn’t hear coach yelling.”
Did Curry think he was out of time?
“No. I was confident in the shot. I saw the rim and said, ‘Why not take it?’ ”
Was he surprised it went in?
The best part of Curry’s quote is the idea of “messing around.” He was messing around while triple-teamed and he decided, what the heck, to fling the ball.
If you are into Curry adoration, that shot goes into your Pantheon of Curry shots. You should understand something else. Curry scored 12 points, skimpy by his lofty standards. And the Warriors still murdered the rival Clippers.
That means the Warriors win even when Curry is not a big contributor, when his biggest contribution is a shot he should sell to Barnum & Bailey.
Two key factors factored into the win. (I know I wrote double factors.)
Key Factor No. 1: Draymond Green.
The Warriors were having trouble with the Clippers for a while, and then the Warriors went small. They moved Green to center. And the game changed and never changed back.
Kerr on the Green Factor: “We know the Clippers are going to blitz Steph and grab him and hold him and be physical. When we can get the ball out of his hands, spread the floor with shooters and get it to Draymond, usually something good comes.”
Green had 23 points. His emergence this season is what happens on a good team. Green took David Lee’s spot. Lee is a fine player who got left behind. Hard for Lee. Good for the Warriors.
Kerr addressed the Lee-Green dynamic: “This is a really tricky one. David is a great player. He’s been an All-Star. He’s still in his prime. We’ve developed a formula while he was out that’s been very effective. You compound that with the fact the whole league is going small at the 4 position and every night we’re playing a 3-point shooter at the 4 spot.
“We’ve adapted to that. Draymond has obviously grabbed that position. David’s a great player. If I put him out there for 30 minutes a night, he’d average 18 points and 10 boards. But it’s all about how the puzzle fits together and, right now, he’s the odd man out.
“(Draymond) guards everybody. He’s the modern day Dennis Rodman. He can guard 1 through 5. And it’s never been more important to guard 1 through 5 than right now because the league’s going small and everybody’s shooting 30 3s a night. To have a guy who can do that and protect the rim and grab rebounds and switch on the pick and roll to point guards and stay in front of them, it’s incredibly unique and important.”
No knock on Lee. But the team has evolved beyond him. Green is proof of the evolution.
Key Factor No. 2: Shaun Livingston.
Before this season, Livingston was just another player. On Sunday, he scored 21 points. Livingston is another part of the Warriors’ evolution.
Kerr on Livingston: “He’s earned extra minutes. For much of the season, I played him behind Steph. The last couple weeks with the stretch run coming, he’s made the decision easy to get him out there with Steph and Klay (Thompson). Game like (today) when the other team’s going to hound Steph like that, it’s great to have Shaun because he’s another point guard.
“He gives us another ball handler. People are trying to be more physical with Steph. Lot of grabbing and holding, which is what you do. You’ve got a guy with that kind of skill without the dominant physical makeup, you try to push him around. That’s all part of the game. Shaun allows us to take Steph off the ball.”
As the playoffs begin to loom, the Warriors are dangerous because, aside from Curry, Thompson, Bogut, and Harrison Barnes, they’ve developed other players — Factors 1 and 2. And those factors were the story of Sunday’s win. No way to ignore that.
Still, Curry still made a pretty good shot.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.