LOS ANGELES — With 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter on Monday, Stephen Curry was isolated, with Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis guarding him 1-1.
1 point behind the Lakers game 4 points, and the Golden State Warriors needed a basket to keep them out of the brink of elimination. It should have been a mismatch: He was one of the greatest scoring guards in league history against a slow center. But Curry suffered twice on the same possession. First, Davis, the top defensive player, pushed the ball away. And Curry missed the fadeaway. After an aggressive rebound, Curry missed his 3-pointer against Davis again.
These were two of several missteps by Golden State in the final moments of an ugly affair that showed no championship mettle as the team won four championships since 2015.
With nine seconds remaining, forward Draymond Green threw the ball to put Golden State down three. On the ensuing jump ball, Curry was down on possession and instead of calling a timeout, he threw the ball away.
“I actually felt like someone was behind me,” Curry said after the game. I wish we had been a little more aware of the possibilities, but it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.”
Golden State missed the chance, leading by 12 in the third quarter. instead, The Lakers won 104-101.
Curry finished the game 12-30. Curry’s Splash Brothers Klay Thompson said he was 3-11. Combined with Golden State’s roll failing to get playmaking out of his players, it left the team in dire straits, reducing his three games to his one in the conference. The revived Lakers semifinal series with his team. The late possession was emblematic of the deficiencies that have plagued Golden State all season, especially away.
Perhaps this is the reality with the 35-year-old Curry-powered core. Thompson, 33 years old. Draymond Green, 33: Tired easily and prone to mental mistakes. But if the Golden State doesn’t dig deep to resurface the magic of the past decade, that dynasty will die in San Francisco on Wednesday.
This isn’t the first time Golden State has lost a playoff series, 3-1. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 3-1 went up In the Western Conference Finals before Golden State roared back to win the series. Three years later, Golden State lost 3-1. Final against Toronto RaptorsHowever, injuries to then-teammates Durant and Thompson caused the team to lose six games.
“It’s like a 3-1,” manager Steve Kerr told reporters after Game 4 on Monday. He said, “I go home and get to work and when I get a win the momentum comes back. That’s it. Someone has to win his four, so do it.”
It hasn’t helped that Golden State’s young players haven’t been able to fill the void left by Curry’s off night. Lakers guard Lonnie Walker, 24, in his fifth year, scored 15 points, including a fourth all-important basket to keep Golden State at bay.2nd year guard Austin Reevesalso chipped at 24, 21 points.
That sort of contribution has eluded Golden State this postseason. Instead, Golden State will have to rely on Curry, 35, as much as he did at 25, making it a recipe for trouble late in the season.
For years, the Golden State front office has touted two timeline plans for development.20-year-old Jonathan Cuminga (Draft 7th in 2021); Moses Moody, 20 years old (No. 14 pick in the same draft); James Wiseman, 22 (second pick of 2020); and Jordan Poole, 23 (No. 28 pick in 2019).
It was a dangerous operation with mixed results.That meant putting a lot of the load on Curry later in his career rather than swapping young developing talent for veterans who could help the team now. Wiseman Traded This Season Injuries and inconsistencies kept him from playing a solid role in the rotation. On Monday night he scored his seven goals in his 19 minutes.
For players just past their teens, that’s nothing out of the ordinary. But Golden State now has one of the best players in NBA history, and he’s playing at a high level. Moody and Kuminga need to get better soon to take advantage of Curry’s window.
Poole is perplexed. During his four-year career, he has also become Golden State’s best player. When the team’s top stars have been hit with injury, Poole has been expected to fill the void as a reliable scorer.Last year, he was a cornerstone of his team’s championship-winning Golden State campaign. He was a regular and started in most games during his season. Poole was a concrete example of investing in young players working for Golden State.
Golden State in October Invest more in your poolreward him with reported extensions Valued at nearly $140 millionHe was set to be a bridge to the future — a potential All-Star replacement for a franchise looking forward to life after Curry, Green and Thompson.
But Poole’s rendition has become as unpredictable as his decision-making on the floor. Although he posted a career-high average, 20.4 points per game During the regular season, his shooting percentage dropped and his turnovers increased. His shot selection drew a lot of criticism.
In the playoffs, Poole played unsuccessfully. In the first round against the Sacramento Kings, Poole shot a dismal 33.8 percent from the field. Monday night he missed all four of his shots and only he played 10 minutes. One shot is an air ball near the basket.
His play was clearly a blow for Poole after Monday’s game. As he approached the reporter in the locker room, he said pool succinctly of his frustration.
After being duped by a Golden State spokesperson, Poole answered questions but never physically confronted reporters.
“The work ethic hasn’t changed,” Poole said. “The routine doesn’t change. The chances change. But you can only control what you can control. We have another game at home in a few days.”
When asked about pool, Curry said it wasn’t about a specific player.
“We get a lot of questions about him. It’s our whole team,” Curry said. “We’re all in this together in trying to figure out how to win a playoff game. And we all have to make adjustments. He has to play better, so there’s no point in isolating him in this situation.“
Golden State has already overcome one playoff deficit this postseason. Golden State found its footing after he lost 2–0 in the opening game against the Kings. But Curry needed his 50 points in the decisive Game 7 for his team to win the series. The most he’s ever scored in a playoff game.
If Poole and other Curry teammates don’t offer more support, Curry may need to reach out to reserves that most 35-year-olds don’t have. And that means Golden State’s dynasty might leave with a whine rather than a bang. Didn’t let the question finish:
“No,” Curry said.
“Just a 3-1 series deficit?” asked the reporter.
“Yes, thank you.”