Steph Curry's triple-double soured, wasted in Warriors' Game 4 loss
Steph's triple-double soured, wasted in Warriors' Game 4 loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Stephen Wardell Curry II channeled his inner Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. on Monday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Warriors superstar point guard dished a playoff career-high 14 assists as part of his third triple-double in his postseason career. Curry also scored 31 points and had 10 rebounds, though Golden State crumbled when it counted and lost 104-101.
Blowing a seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter, the Warriors now face a daunting three-games-to-one deficit in the second round of the playoffs.
"It feels like what it is," Steve Kerr said afer the loss. "You go home and you take care of business and you get a win and then momentum is right back in your favor. That's all it is. Somebody has to win four times, that's why you play it out."
After a first quarter where the Warriors trailed 22-21, Curry kept the ball moving and had the Warriors' offense humming as it found its rhythm over the second and third quarters. Between those two periods, Curry handed out 11 assists in a span of 21 minutes and 50 seconds. The Warriors outscored the Lakers 63-55 in the second and third quarters combined, giving them what appeared to be a comfortable lead heading into the final 12 minutes of the night.
They went 25-of-47 shooting (53.2 percent) and had 18 assists, five more than the Lakers' 13, in what looked like 24 minutes of Warriors basketball.
There was one man leading the way, conducting an orchestra that was playing the hits.
"That's what he does," Gary Payton II said. "He's a floor general. You take one thing away from him and he figures out how to get his team involved. As you can see, he can still score the ball. He does a bit of everything.
"He leads us and we just try to make it easier for him."
Payton was inserted into the Warriors' starting lineup Monday night, alongside Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green. While his defense comes first, Payton scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
Curry assisted on five of Payton's seven made shots.
On the night, he produced 32 assist points.
But what will be remembered most is the fourth quarter. Since 2015, the Warriors were 81-7 in the playoffs when leading after three quarters. Curry already had 21 points, 13 assists, nine rebounds and three steals. He secured a triple-double off an effort-filled rebound with 8:40 left in the game.
The fourth quarter, though, was where he looked to take over scoring the ball. Curry scored 10 points on 11 shots, the same amount of shots he took in the first half. He's still fighting some Los Angeles-sized demons shooting the ball against the Lakers in what is now known as a Crypto.com Arena.
Curry passed Larry Bird for sole possession of 12th place on the all-time scoring list in playoff history. He had his 57th career game in the playoffs where he put up 30 or more points. Johnson, the all-time leader in playoff triple-doubles only scored at least 30 points 12 times in 190 postseason games.
With a few ticks more than a minute left in Game 4, Curry pulled the Warriors within one point behind a layup. The next three times he touched the ball, Curry missed an 18-foot jumper that would have given the Warriors a lead and then a 30-footer. The salt on the wound was Curry turning the ball over off a jump ball.
There was only 1.5 seconds left, but the Warriors still had a timeout. Kerr was yelling for one, though the ball already was rolling out of bounds.
"Actually, I felt like somebody was behind me and I kind of just let it go," Curry said. "Bang-bang play. I wish I had a little bit more awareness to maybe call the timeout knowing that we had enough timeout. Just didn't go our way."
Coming into the series, Curry for his career on the road against the Lakers had shot 42.6 percent from the field (150 of 352) and 32.5 percent from 3-point range. That's 4.9 percent worse than his career field goal percentage and 10.3 percent below his career average from deep.
Then in Game 3, Curry was 9 of 21 overall and 4 of 10 on threes. Two nights later, he was 12 of 30 and 3 of 14. In the Warriors' two losses in LA, Curry shot 41.2 percent from the field and 29.2 percent beyond the arc.
He maintains his shot felt good, despite the lowly numbers.
"A lot of them were back rim, which for me means you got good legs, good lift," Curry said. "Just didn't go down."
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Curry's first playoff triple-double gave the Warriors a 2-0 series lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals. His second sent the Warriors to the 2019 Finals after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers. The third time wasn't as lucky, with Curry and the Warriors' season, and a dynasty, now hanging by a thread.
The cure could be home cooking. Curry in five playoff games at Chase Center this year is averaging 28.8 points on a 47.1 percent shooting and 47.2 percent behind the 3-point line.
He'll need help, which the Warriors again were short on. Still, the quickest cure to keeping the Warriors' season alive simply is Steph Curry shooting like Steph Curry does in front of his home fans. Poetic justice being down 3-1 against LeBron James is in front of him, and there's nobody better to face the fire.
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