Stephen Curry scores 24, but the return is not enough to lift the Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO — Heading into Tuesday evening’s recreation, the Golden State Warriors have been assured Stephen Curry’s return can be simply what they wanted to construct on the momentum they’d established earlier on their homestand with out him.

They lastly had their finest participant again. Their beginning lineup — the league’s finest five-man unit — was complete for the first time since Dec. 3. They have been going through an undermanned, struggling Phoenix Suns group.

Instead, the Warriors appeared like an identical model of the group they have been when Curry went down with a left shoulder subluxation, falling to the Suns 125-113.

“I believe with Steph and [Andrew Wiggins] again, we in all probability relaxed a bit greater than we should always have,” Golden State guard Klay Thompson mentioned. “We thought with them exhibiting up, we would simply get the dub.”

But each Curry and Wiggins have mud to shake off, and it was evident.

Curry, who missed 11 video games after being injured Dec. 14, wore a capturing sleeve on his left arm that stretched from his shoulder down to his wrist. He mentioned that bodily he got here via the recreation effectively and wasn’t fascinated about his shoulder throughout the motion — one thing that was essential for him to do to be cleared to play.

On Friday, Curry had mentioned he did not suppose his conditioning took an excessive amount of of a success throughout his layoff, and whereas he performed 31 minutes Tuesday evening, he admitted taking part in underneath a minute restriction affected his capability to discover his rhythm.

Knowing he would play for less than sure stretches, he mentioned there was a degree of strain to regain his kind in a finite period of time, which he tried to stability whereas taking part in inside the stream of the recreation.

“It’s hit and miss with how a lot rust you should have and the way shut you may get to the velocity of the recreation,” Curry mentioned. “The first quarter, it felt good simply to be on the market, operating with our guys. … I felt like I received stronger as the recreation went on. … In the fourth, the depth of the recreation picked up. We have been taking part in very desperately making an attempt to come again and make some performs. I felt like myself once more.”

Curry scored 16 of his 24 factors in the fourth quarter. He shot 8-of-22 from the flooring, together with 5-of-15 from 3.

Wiggins, who was taking part in in his second recreation again from an adductor pressure and subsequent damage, completed with 10 factors but did so on 5-of-16 capturing and lacked the aggression and rhythm he had earlier than his absence.

Thompson began the evening scoring 14 of his 29 factors in the first quarter then cooled off. In his first recreation coming off the bench since Dec. 3, Jordan Poole scored 27 factors.

With simply over 4 minutes left in the recreation, Curry hit three consecutive 3-pointers to breathe life again into the Warriors. Three minutes later, a Poole layup, a cease, a Poole 3 and one other cease had pulled the Warriors inside six after they’d trailed by as a lot as 27.

Out of the timeout, Curry received referred to as for a foul, sending Damion Lee to the line and giving the Suns a three-possession lead. Those free throws wound up being the dagger.

“I’m hoping that fourth quarter was the group that I’ve come to know and love and acknowledge,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr mentioned. “But now we have to present in the first quarter, not in the fourth quarter.”

The fourth quarter, Curry mentioned, exemplified the “degree of focus, of togetherness, toughness, excessive IQ basketball” the Warriors maintain themselves to and what they know is wanted to win.

But the first three quarters noticed the Warriors’ offense disjointed and their protection virtually nonexistent. Phoenix, taking part in with out Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne, closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run and by halftime held a 14-point lead.

“I’ve received to do a greater job of giving [the Warriors] the slap in the face that Phoenix gave us,” Kerr mentioned. “One group has the edge emotionally like Phoenix did, and so they set the tone instantly. That’s all it takes.”

Both Kerr and Thompson mentioned Tuesday’s contest wants to function a reminder to the Warriors that there are not any straightforward video games in the NBA, regardless of how wholesome their roster is or how depleted their opponent’s is.

“You want a wake-up name,” Kerr mentioned. “You want to perceive the degree of dedication to one another, to the recreation it takes to win a title.”

This is not only a reminder to the Warriors’ youthful gamers and two-way gamers, who Kerr identified did not play towards Phoenix, but to their veterans who’ve received a number of championships.

But having simply performed their forty first recreation of the season — the official midway mark — there have been different reminders of this, different video games after which the Warriors have shared an identical sentiment: that they perceive they’re not assembly their normal.

“We’ve been speaking about it for a very long time,” Curry mentioned. “Eventually, you’ve to do it or else time runs out. … We have 41 video games to determine it out — or else we can’t.”

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