Steph pushes through storm to lead imperative Warriors win vs. Magic

NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors opened what was heralded as their get-well homestand with two consecutive losses at Chase Center. The Orlando Magic were trying to give them a third Tuesday night, effectively punching another hole in their recovery hopes.

Perhaps no one felt the magnitude of the moment more than Stephen Curry, whose miniature slump coincided with a three-game losing streak that began on Christmas Day in Denver.

If the Warriors were to stop the slide, maybe generate at least temporary momentum, who better than Steph to crush the hopes of the Magic?

Though Curry was profoundly imperfect, he delivered what was needed at all the right times. It was enough for the Warriors to carve out a 121-115 victory before a relieved sellout home crowd.

“From the start of the game, I saw the pictures really well, where help side is going to be,” Curry said. “When I had the ball mostly at the top of the key, I was getting downhill into the paint. That softened the defense. We got the ball moving a couple times and I got some open catch-and-shoot looks.

“Once we stopped fouling, we got the tempo where we wanted it. Playing in transition. That always helps us create good momentum. I thrive in those types of situations.”

Curry’s inside-out tactic, shooting from deep but then shifting his attack to midrange, worked splendidly. He finished with a game-high 36 points, on 12-of-20 shooting from the field, including 4 of 9 from distance.

That production, along with his team-high six assists, more than enough offset a notable defensive lapse, a couple daring passes and substandard (for him) 8-of-11 shooting from the line.

“Steph was amazing, but Steph is always amazing, even when he doesn’t score 36 points,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The attention he draws defensively, what he does to an opposing defense, the way he opens up the floor . . . he’s a remarkable player and really got himself going on a night when we needed it.”

Curry pretty much ended Orlando’s attempt to pull out the victory when he drained a nasty 3-ball that gave Golden State a 104-97 lead – their biggest of the game – with 4:27 remaining.

“I liked that Steph bailed us out there when we were up four and he hit that step back (3-pointer),” said Klay Thompson, who scored 15 points. “That was ridiculous.”

Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley saw Steph’s outburst coming and tried several times to stop it. Like most coaches familiar with a lethal Curry flurry, Mosley tried to use timeouts to defuse the two-time MVP.

Mosley’s second timeout came after three consecutive Curry buckets in the second quarter erased a one-point Magic lead and put Golden State up five. His third timeout came in the third quarter, after Curry either scored or assisted on eight of 10 points, giving the Warriors their biggest lead (80-74) at that point.

His fourth timeout came immediately after the previously mentioned Curry step-back triple that gave the Warriors a seven-point lead.

Nothing worked.

“They have an elite shot-maker and Hall of Fame player in Steph Curry,” Mosley said. “And that’s what we got.”

Curry over the previous three games averaged 18.6 points on 31.1 percent shooting from the field, including 32.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Warriors lost by six at Denver before a 12-point home loss to a compromised Miami team, and a 10-point loss to Dallas.

“Getting him good looks and whatnot and the energy of the team changes when we get stops and we’re able to get out in transition,” Chris Paul said. “And when shots go in, especially for a shooter or a scorer like Steph, once you make a couple, it’s trouble.”

Slump, busted.

Losing streak over.

“After the first quarter, we dug in executed and played with a great competitive spirit,” Curry said. “We needed it bad. It’s definitely a great win. It’s always nice to settle the storm a little bit and get back on the right track.

“Now we’ve got to do something about it to back it up. We gave ourselves a good opportunity to do that playing against Denver on Thursday.”

A win over the defending champion Nuggets would put the Warriors at .500 once again. That is the epitome of mediocrity. Or, as the Warriors surely hope, a giant step toward recovery.

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