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Warriors takeaways: Curry’s late explosion fuels wild, improbable comeback vs. Clippers


© Kelley L Cox | 2021 Jan 8


The Golden State Warriors pulled a shocking upset on Friday night, coming back from a 20 point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 115-105 at Chase Center. Here are the takeaways:

Where did that come from?

For the second time in three days, the Warriors were fighting hard vs. a more talented Clippers team. For the second time in three days, they were almost certainly going to lose.

Then Stephen Curry caught fire from deep.

As he has so many times throughout his hall of fame career, Curry fueled a feverish comeback late in the third quarter. The Warriors trailed 85-63 with 3:15 remaining in the frame, before Curry scored 13 points during an 18-2 to close the quarter, including three 3-pointers.

That cut the the Clippers lead to six. Then in a move Steve Kerr hasn’t pulled in the regular season for years, Curry started the fourth quarter, opening up the floor for a Kent Bazemore layup and Damion Lee 3-pointer to cut the lead to one.

Curry would then sit briefly for Brad Wanamaker, a free agent acquisition that has had trouble finding his footing in his first eight games as a Warrior. That changed on Friday, with Wanamaker hitting two massive three pointers during his fourth quarters stint, the latter of which extended the Warriors lead to four. He was part of an improbable game-closing lineup that included Mychal Mulder and Eric Paschall along with Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Curry.

By the time Curry returned with 5:15 remaining, the Clippers looked stunned. Steph then nailed the dismount, scoring five more points and a dagger 3-pointer to push the lead to 115-103.

When all was said and done, Curry had an MVP-like 39 points on 13-of-34 shooting and 9-of-14 from downtown.

It was the Warriors’ most impressive win of the season by far, and their first against an opponent that is a playoff shoo-in, and Finals contender.

If it’s broke, fix it

Friday’s win was so shocking in part because things looked so bad for the first half of the game. While the Warriors outscored Los Angeles 61-38 in the second half, they were outscored 65-51 in the first 24 minutes.

Many of the Warriors lineups struggled to score, especially the starting unit. With Kelly Oubre shooting so badly (we’ll get to him later) the Warriors’ current starting five has only two players that can create their own shot in Curry and Wiggins, and three others — Draymond Green, James Wiseman and Oubre — who cannot.

This issue is putting the Warriors behind the eight ball consistently. Friday was no different, with Golden State starting the game down 24-7. With the likes of Damion Lee (+22 in 22 minutes) and Mychal Mulder (+27 in 19 minutes) much better at spacing the floor for Curry, don’t be surprised if they work their way into the starting lineup sooner rather than later, especially if Oubre keeps struggling.

Apparently, it can get worse for Kelly Oubre

To say Kelly Oubre is having a rough start to his Warriors career would be an understatement. The free agent signing who was supposed to help soften the blow of Klay Thompson’s absence, was shooting 14.3 percent from three on over five attempts per game heading into Friday.

At some point you’d think this slump will have to end. Oubre shot over 35 percent on just as many attempts per game last season. This can’t possibly last much longer, right?

It lasted at least one more night on Friday, with Oubre having possibly the worst overall performance of his nine-game Warriors career. Oubre was so bad, he did not see the floor again after being pulled late in the third quarter. The shooting was again abysmal (six points, 0-of-3 from three, three turnovers, -25 in 21 minutes), but the other problems related to that were just as concerning.

One constant through Oubre’s slump, is his desire to continue shooting through it. Normally, with someone likeThompson let’s say, this would be the correct approach. Oubre has taken this concept to an extreme degree, however, by taking not just wide open threes, but contested ones that are not in rhythm.

Instead of cutting to the basket, he is too often just standing in one spot outside the three point line, leading to the issue below, where he takes up the corner three spot that Curry is trying to get to.

This also manifested itself at the end of the half, when Curry faced a double-team, and instead of kicking it out to an open Oubre in the corner, elected to take it to the hoop.

Oubre’s yips were on full display, his confidence so shot that he had trouble with basic passes and ball-handling at times. He also stepped out of bounds for the second time in as many games while beginning a drive to the hoop (somewhere Mikel Pietrus is frowning).

Oubre will not shoot 14 percent from three-point range this season. He will get better. Until then, however, he has to find other ways to contribute. Oubre is extremely athletic, and is capable of getting to the hoop in one-on-one situations. Scoring a few easy ones early in the game, would be a better way to get himself going than just firing away and putting the Warriors in an early hole every game.

 

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