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sport / / BANG: Steph Curry’s absence looms large as Warriors suffer concerning loss to Spurs

o BANG: Steph Curry’s absence looms large as Warriors suffer concerning loss to SpAllen

BANG: Steph Curry’s absence looms large as Warriors suffer concerning loss to Spurs


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG:_Steph_Curry’s_absence_looms_large_as_Warr
Date: Sat, 9 Mar 2024 21:46:36 -0800
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 by: Allen - Sun, 10 Mar 2024 05:46 UTC

Steph Curry’s absence looms large as Warriors suffer concerning loss to
Without Curry, the Warriors couldn't even keep pace with the lowly Spurs

>Golden State Warriors’ Moses Moody (4) and Andrew Wiggins (22)
pressure San Antonio Spurs’ Tre Jones (33) in the fourth quarter of an
NBA game, Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Chase Center in San Francisco,
Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Danny Emerman is a Bay Area News Group sports reporter
By DANNY EMERMAN | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: March 9, 2024 at 8:10 p.m. | UPDATED: March 9, 2024 at 9:19 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — Life without Steph Curry has never been fun for the
Warriors, and nothing about this year’s group changed that on Saturday.

For as much development Jonathan Kuminga has shown, as impressive as
rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis has been, as much as
veteran Chris Paul can bring, they won’t have much of a chance without
Curry. He remains their sun, and they tend to fall out of orbit when he
goes dark.

Without Curry, the Warriors couldn’t even keep pace with the last-place
Spurs, who entered at 13-50 and were missing Victor Wembanyama — by far
their best player. The Spurs led by as much as 21 and maintained a
healthy lead by shooting 51.5% from 3-point distance in the Chase Center.

“We just never had any traction in the game,” coach Steve Kerr said
postgame. “I didn’t feel like we had confidence or energy.”

Kuminga struggled early but scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and
Klay Thompson dropped a game-high 27, but the Warriors needed much more
in a 126-113 defeat. For the first leg of a home-and-home with the
Spurs, Golden State (33-30) absorbed a disconcerting loss to the Western
Conference’s worst team.

>Golden State Warriors' Jonathan Kuminga (00) scores against the San
Antonio Spurs in the fourth quarter of an NBA game, Saturday, March 9,
2024, at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area
News Group)

The Warriors knew finding rotations that worked with Curry sidelined
could be an adventure. But this loss was a tribulation no one could have
foreseen. The only encouraging note is that the two-time MVP isn’t
expected to miss serious time, as he’s set for re-evaluation on Tuesday.

Without Curry, the Warriors started a defensive-minded lineup. They ran
more offense through their new point guard, Chris Paul, and ascending
young wing Jonathan Kuminga — who came alive late. They ran more sets
with off-ball actions instead of the freestyling drive-and-kicks Curry
tends to generate.

The results were rarely promising.

Several possessions ended with tough, contested jump shots. Instead of
the elegant ball and player movement that has defined Steve Kerr’s
Warriors offensive system, there were much more isolations and no-pass
possessions. With fewer 3-point shooting threats on the floor, the paint
was much more clogged than usual.

“Steph makes our life easier,” Thompson said postgame. “Everybody out
there’s life easier. Because he demands so much attention.”

Golden State’s lack of outside shooting was particularly evident when
the Spurs’s 2-3 zone swallowed up their halfcourt offense. In the first
five minutes of the second quarter, the Warriors mustered just five
points. Dario Saric, who was summoned from out of Kerr’s rotation for
shooting, broke a two-minute Warriors scoring drought.

The Warriors trailed the Spurs by 19 at half, having scored just 16
points in the second quarter.

Ranked 24th in defensive rating, San Antonio is hardly the defensive
machine. And without Wembanyama, the generational rookie who disrupts
everything in the paint, they’re even worse. San Antonio was also
without rotation players Cedi Osman and Devin Vassell.

It’s unlikely the Warriors thought it would be as difficult to score as
it was. They’ve played without Curry before, and Klay Thompson said on
Thursday that “we’ll do well without him, we’ll rely on our history and
how to execute without him.”

That’s easier said than done. The Warriors came into the Spurs matchup
0-3 in games without Curry this year and had lost to the Bulls after he
exited with the ankle sprain. In 2019-20, they went 15-50 when he missed
almost the entire year.

The Warriors didn’t hang tough defensively, either, though that has less
to do with Curry’s absence. During one stretch in which the Warriors
threatened to make a run, they let Julian Champagnie a wide-open corner
3 in semi transition to quell their momentum.

“I felt like they got a few easy ‘HORSE’ shots that got them going, got
them comfortable,” Jackson-Davis said. “Miscommunications and
breakdowns, they were getting and they were getting easy shots. Our
defense broke down.”

Golden State started the second half small, with Draymond Green at
center and Thompson in for spacing. It worked initially, with the
Warriors opening the third quarter on a 16-8 run.

The strategy worked, at least on one end. Golden State put together a
36-point frame, but continued to bleed open looks from behind the arc on
the other end. Every time Thompson drilled a 3 or Jackson-Davis made an
acrobatic finish, it seemed like a Spur canned a batting practice triple
to answer.

After three quarters, San Antonio — the second worst 3-point shooting
team in the league — shot 61.5% from deep and led by 17.

“As the game went on, we had multiple breakdowns,” Kerr said. “They got
to the rim at will. We gave up 28 free throws and 17 3s — you’ve got to
stop something. And I thought they got anything they wanted all night.
It was a tough night defensively.”

Kuminga, who was quiet for most of the game, dropped 11 points in the
first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Golden State’s most consistent
offense of the night was Kuminga playing bully ball.

Kuminga continued to score, and his gliding finish in transition cut San
Antonio’s lead to 13 with 3:59 left. But a full court trap and foul game
wasn’t fruitful enough. That’s the position Golden State found
themselves without Curry: playing out the string in desperation mode
against a depleted version of one of the league’s least talented teams.

“We have a great team to compete with anybody,” Kuminga said. “Of course
we’re going to feel Steph’s absence, but it can’t be the reason, that
Steph’s not playing, that we’re losing. Obviously, he comes in and
changes the game, but just missing him doesn’t mean we’ve got to go out
there and lose.”

sport / / BANG: Steph Curry’s absence looms large as Warriors suffer concerning loss to Spurs


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