What is more remarkable: Stephen Curry missing 14 straight shots; the Warriors winning a game in which Curry misses 14 straight shots; or Curry not being the Warriors’ best late-game option from his own family?
Whatever the answer is does not matter. The Warriors have plenty of answers right now, though.
Damion Lee, Curry’s brother-in-law, knocked down two free throws with 4.3 seconds left, putting the Warriors back ahead in a 106-105 victory over the Raptors on Sunday at Chase Center. Golden State had been ahead by as many as 16 while their superstar struggled and fell behind on a difficult Fred VanVleet jumper with 45 seconds left. In the game’s closing moments, Curry was hounded, as he was all game, and dished to the brother-in-law who two weeks ago sunk a game-winning 3 against the Bulls.
This time, Lee fought to get a long jumper up because he thought he was fouled, which officials (upon review) agreed with. He sunk both free throws, and Pascal Siakam missed a jumper of his own on the other end.
The Warriors’ sixth win in eight games was a strange one that highlighted their two best players do not need to fill the scoresheet to have tremendous impacts on games. Curry, even while off, is a nonstop focus of defenses, and Draymond Green a nonstop presence on defense. The other contributors, led by James Wiseman and Andrew Wiggins, were just enough.
The Warriors (6-4) probably do not have the firepower of a title contender but they do have the DNA and blueprint to be a playoff threat. Curry will get the Warriors open looks. Green will solidify the defense. They have enough interesting pieces to be interesting.
They opened a 10-point lead at the half with Curry scoring all of three points. That edge was as many as 16, but a Chris Boucher tip-in at 3:22 pushed Toronto ahead and led to the seesaw that the Warriors narrowly escaped. Here are some takeaways:
What a weird game
The most surprising aspect of the 15-point, second-quarter lead the Warriors built was debatable. Was it:
a) the 51-35 edge, punctuated by a strong offensive rebound and putback by Brad Wanamaker at 5:03 in the second, involved no Warrior in double digits;
b) the lead was padded by 19-year-old Wiseman sealing off 26-year-old Siakam under the hoop, getting the entry pass and dunking over the All-Star;
Wiseman just bodied Siakam pic.twitter.com/exsR9X9nRu
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) January 11, 2021
c) Curry was absent from the boxscore, finishing the first half shooting 1-of-7 from the field.
Missing but not absent
The same team that famously turned into a fifth-grade team and defended Curry with a box-and-one was not going to let him breathe.
Everywhere Curry went he was doubled, faceguarded by an alternating Raptor while another always lurked whenever the Warriors tried to feed him. In one memorable moment in the third, Curry tried to slip a screen and peel off toward the 3-point line, followed not just by his defender but Kelly Oubre Jr.’s and Wiggins’. It was Wiggins who wound up with the dunk, all alone under the hoop.
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) January 11, 2021
Curry missed 14 straight shots, got some (relatively) open looks and couldn’t finish, ending his day 2-for-16 and 1-for-10 from 3. He also was a plus-seven. He had just about the loudest quiet game that you will see.
He contributed in plenty of other ways, too, nine rebounds and six assists while commanding all the attention. He was remarkable in Friday’s stirring win over the Clippers. He was a very different brand of remarkable Sunday, when he hit one fewer 3 than Green.
In the past two games — against the Clippers and Raptors, two powerful teams — Kent Bazemore is a combined plus-23.
The Warriors have come together as Bazemore has begun to play more. He plays well alongside Wiggins, constantly looking to make the other pass to free up a better shooter. He did some of everything, finishing with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting with five rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
The well-traveled veteran essentially is the Green of the second unit and knows where to be. That was perfectly illustrated in the third quarter, when he knew Toronto would have to fling up a shot-clock-beating prayer.
BAZEMORE APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE FOR THIS BLOCK! 🤣🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/t70XYC4iHi
— TheWarriorsTalk (@TheWarriorsTalk) January 11, 2021
The Green of the first unit was plenty effective, too.
Green was characteristically hesitant with his shot, and there might come a point in which he has to look for his own game more. But that point hasn’t arrived.
Green made a run at another triple-double, posting 10 points (on 3-of-8 shooting) with nine rebounds and 10 assists. Those numbers do not do him justice, the Warriors’ defense far more cohesive than it was at the start of the season.
The Warriors held the Raptors to 13-of-38 (34 percent) from 3, and the Warriors will need to be excellent on that side of the floor for this season to go anywhere.
The Dubs’ Dubs
When Wiggins and Wiseman play this well, this season can go plenty of places.
The two high-upside projects — of varying degrees — posted nice games, Wiggins looking comfortable as the leader of the second unit with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, Wiseman adding 10 points on 5-of-7 from the field.
The numbers were nice. The end-to-end dunk was nicer.
James Wiseman takes it 94 feet 👀 pic.twitter.com/C3BAfXifZS
— KNBR (@KNBR) January 11, 2021
When a player begins 7-for-51 from deep in his Warriors tenure, there will be a constant eye on if there is still hope. Especially from Klay Thompson’s replacement.
Oubre, while his one swish from 3 was a key fourth-quarter make, was 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. He again showed flashes elsewhere and plays solid defense, but the shooting will have to improve.