Steph Curry, 'championship DNA' carry Warriors to emotional Game 4 win

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Steph, 'championship DNA' lift Dubs to emotional Game 4 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – Up 2-1 through three games, Game 4 was the Warriors’ opportunity to seize control of the series, to remind the young Grizzlies that they’re not quite ready for the rapidly deepening postseason waters.

And for 47 minutes Monday night, it was the Warriors thrashing about almost helplessly, struggling through emotions, unable to stay afloat long enough to take even one lead.

Finally, 14.3 seconds into the 48th and last minute, Stephen Curry sank two free throws, putting Warriors up 94-93. The sellout crowd (18,064) at Chase Center responded as if the second free throw were a buzzer-beater.

With 25.9 seconds on the clock, Curry drained two more free throws for a 96-93 lead, then dropped four more free throws over the final 19.5 seconds to secure a 101-98 victory that gives the Warriors a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals as it returns to Memphis on Wednesday for Game 5.

“When you come into a fourth quarter with no flow offensively and you're still within three or four possessions of coming back, that feels . . . there's some motivation behind that,” Curry said. “We've been here before and we know how to pull off games like this, whether it happens or not. It's just about how you approach it and we made that happen.”

Credit, perhaps, a phrase Curry often uses to describe the history he has with his fellow member of Golden State’s three-ring club: Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala.

“Championship DNA.”

That might be what allowed the Warriors to get past the last-minute loss of coach Steve Kerr, who tested positive for Covid-19 and entered health and safety protocols. Assistant coach Mike Brown served as acting head coach.

That DNA surely helped them work through the sadness permeating the locker room upon the news that Adreian Payne, a close friend of Draymond Green – they were teammates at Michigan State – had been shot and killed early Monday morning in Florida.

“It was a tough night for us,” Brown said. “But at this point in the year, you win ballgames. Doesn't matter how you get there. You win ballgames, and we found a way to win tonight and that's why I'm excited.”

For this was a game nearly squandered as Curry and most of his teammates plumbed the depths of ways to lose. Turnovers, particularly in the first half, came in bunches. Shots, many of them open, frequently found ways to avoid falling through the rim. The Warriors entered the fourth quarter shooting 35.6 percent from the field, 17.2 percent from deep. Aberrant offensive basketball indeed.

Curry over the first 40 minutes shot 6-of-18 from the field, including 2-of-10 from deep, along with three turnovers. Thompson through three quarters was 5-of-18 overall, 0-of-7 from deep and minus-11 for is 29 minutes.

Though Curry for most of the night shot as if blindfolded, he was perfect from the line at winning time, draining all eight of his free throws to provide a cushion that held.

“I hate to say, but I don't know if he has a great memory, which is fantastic,” Brown said. “You need that in his position because he missed shots that he can make in his sleep. Because he doesn't think about it or think about the past or dwell on it too hard, he always thinks that the next thing is going to happen in a positive manner for him, whether it's a made shot, or the right pass for an assist or him cutting back at the right time to score a bucket. And he's always that confident because he thinks next play all the time.”

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Curry finished with a game-high 32 points, 18 of which came as the Warriors wiped out a 12-point in the fourth quarter. With Green leading the defense, the Grizzlies shot 2-of-8 over the final 2:57.

“It was just don't let the first three quarters influence the fact that we still had a chance to win the game,” Curry said. “Shoot the shots you think you can make, play aggressive, take care of the ball. We did all those things.”

Defense, rebounding and some questionable Memphis shot selection kept the Warriors close enough to keep believing.

Curry’s efficiency when it matters most and experience in the face of peril took them home.