SAN FRANCISCO – Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry brought the ball straight into his face from over midcourt with Milwaukee Bucks’ Jevon Carter. Curry accelerated and then quickly stopped at the top of the 3-point arc, leaving Carter a few feet away.
Curry had enough room to launch a 3. Bang.
The shot tied the score of the Warriors’ game against Milwaukee with 19 seconds left in regulation. And Curry was mean as he made his way to the bench – his face never left his face after that.
“I was tired,” Curry said. “Go slow on the bench, take advantage of the full three-minute time. Don’t scream because it requires oxygen. Conserve energy.”
Curry scored 36 points on Saturday to help lead the Warriors to their 125-116 overtime victory. Twenty-two of his points were scored in the fourth quarter and overtime – on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-7 on 3-pointers. He scored 11 points in the final two minutes of regulation (excluding his fourth quarter two points).
But arguably, his most important play came 17 seconds after his tying 3rd. With 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Junior Holiday was fouled by Donte DiVincenzo. It looked like he had an open lane to the hoop. But as he rose to shoot a floater, Curry met him over the top, blocking his shot.
“when you [make] “Get some big shots down the stretch and then find yourself in a position to play the other side, I think that gives everybody a good boost,” Curry said. “I think I got more compliments on that in the locker room than any other shot I made tonight.”
“It was great to see him use the rules of verticality and get that block,” Draymond Green said.
It was Curry’s first block inside the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime of his regular season career (he did it once in the playoffs).
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “Steph was unbelievable, and he did it against a great defender on the junior holiday.” “It’s amazing to watch those two guys fight. Steph is fearless. It doesn’t matter if it’s a slow start or if he doesn’t have much going on, he can ignite at any moment.”
Golden State had a 13-point lead with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter. By the time there were two minutes to go in the fourth, they were trailing by eight. Curry was on the bench for most of this stretch. Kerr said he looked tired and wanted to save Curry’s energy for the final stretch.
“It’s a challenge to bring execution and focus,” Curry said. “Even when things aren’t going your way — that fourth quarter when they take an eight-point lead — and you slowly take them down, that’s the belief you have to have that we can Can.”
That’s why curry was being done.
Curry scored 15 of his 36 points in clutch time, outscoring the Bucks, 15–11. The fifteen clutch-time points are tied for fourth most by any player this season. It is also tied for the most in one game in his career.
Golden State also stepped up its defense, contesting at a high rate and forcing five Milwaukee turnovers. Kerr opted to start off with a starting lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, DiVincenzo, Green, and Kevon Looney – due to the defense the group was playing, while also capitalizing on offensive opportunities.
“We came out with a defensive mindset,” Green said. “When we defend, we give ourselves a chance to win.
“You don’t defend, that’s bullshit. … All your shots are tough if you don’t defend. You’re playing against a set defense every game. It starts with the defense for us and We were able to set it up tonight.”
The win came in the first game of the Warriors’ three-game homestand and after three losses on the road. Golden State is now on a seven-game win streak at home, while they have lost eight games in a row away from the Chase Center.
The Warriors know they need to find the magic they have at home on the road. Curry called it a “revolving door” where the Warriors look like they’re ready to make the run they’ve been waiting for, only to lose it the next night.
But they are starting to play with the confidence to get there.
“Championship stuff,” said Kerr of how the Warriors closed out the game. “That’s the team that’s won four titles. They know how to do it. They did it tonight against probably the best team in the league.”