By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com
LOS ANGELES — In other Clippers-Warriors news, Stephen Curry is averaging 15 shots a game, had just 10 on Tuesday at Staples Center as Golden State reached the brink of elimination, and hasn’t stitched together back-to-back Curry-esque performances the entire first round.
The good thing for Curry is that the inconsistent play hasn’t received the usual attention because, um, something else is going on, and the encouraging note for all the Warriors is that they’re still in the series despite no confirmed sighting of their All-Star point guard who can carry a team. On the other hand, the Clippers are up 3-2 in the series and the Warriors’ season could end Thursday in Oakland, so this is no time to be feeling good about getting by.
“He knows he’s got to be better,” coach Mark Jackson said. “[Tuesday], he turned the ball over obviously a little too much. [The Clippers] did a good job being active in their pick-and-roll defense. The other night, he executed, he was aggressive. [In Game 4], at times he tried to thread the needle a little too much. We’ll make the adjustments and move forward, but I feel good about Steph and what he’s going to do on all accounts.”
Right on all accounts. Turnovers have been a problem, with eight in Game 5 and 22 in the series, just as they have been a problem all season for Curry in particular and the Warriors in general. Curry was 33-point, seven-assist, seven-rebound aggressive in Game 4, except that came just after 16 points on five-of-12 shooting (though he collected 15 assists) and just before 17 points on Tuesday to underline his struggles to have the same consistent impact as he did in the 2013 playoffs. There have been moments, but rarely beyond a quarter and never in back-to-back games.
Getting 10 shots, though, is an obvious problem. The Warriors, underdogs to begin with after finishing lower in the standings and now playing without the defense and snarly attitude of Andrew Bogut, really have no chance to advance if their offensive star is that neutralized.
Curry came close to that number on three-pointers alone in the regular season, 7.9. Overall, he got off 17.7 attempts per game. There is the factor of the slightly slower pace of the playoffs — the Warriors are down about three shots a game compared to the first 82 games — but 10 shots in a postseason contest is unacceptable for Curry no matter what. He’s the last guy who should lose looks.
“We still scored a hundred points,” Curry said after the 113-103 loss. “I’ll tell you one thing. We can’t win if DeAndre [Jordan] has 25. That’s for sure.”
Jordan did have 25 points, along with 18 rebounds and four blocks, in the latest example of the Clippers controlling the inside. Golden State has to do something about that as well.
“That’s just five guys playing better defense on possessions,” Curry said. “Putting a body on him and making sure he doesn’t get those garbage points — put-backs and alley-oops to the rim. He’s a difference maker if he’s allowed to do that in the paint. They’ve got a lot of talent offensively and if he has a big game then it’s tough.”
Jordan, mostly on defense and the boards, and Blake Griffin have bullied the Warriors much of the way, and are an obvious factor in the 3-2 lead for the Clippers in the strangest series they’ll ever be part of. But Curry can’t have the second-most shots on the team, no matter how dangerous Klay Thompson is and especially not when Curry has played nearly 29 minutes more than Thompson. Then it’s really, really tough.