© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
After a less than stellar four-game road trip, the Golden State Warriors returned home and basically coasted into a win they both needed, and would have been embarrassed not to have against a hapless Oklahoma City Thunder team which has lost 19 of its last 20 games. The Warriors won 118-97.
Surprise, surprise: Stephen Curry plays well, helps Warriors gain ground in playoff push
This was a night when Curry didn’t quite have it from the start, but he was hellbent on snapping out of that early skid. He — rightly — just kept chucking shots until they went down. And they went down.
He started 1-for-4 from three, but turned that around in the second half, finishing 6-of-13, en route to a fairly easy 34 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists, with a steal and a few turnovers. He had a game-high +24 plus-minus.
Maybe the momentum for him to win MVP has cooled, as it’s almost assuredly going to be Denver’s Nikola Jokic, but Curry is still making a firm case that he should be the No. 2 in that race.
This win, led by Curry and punctuated by Mychal Mulder, plus a loss from the Memphis Grizzlies, gave Golden State (34-33) a half-game advantage over Memphis (33-33), who they will play on the final day of the season, in what may decided 8th or 9th place, and having to play two must-wins versus potentially just one game.
The win is the first of six-straight games the Warriors will play at home to close out the season; with fans back, that may prove to be significant.
A fun night from the (very limited) bench, led by Mychal Mulder
The Warriors rode with an eight-man rotation until the last four minutes of the game, when they gave Nico Mannion and Alen Smailagic a couple minutes. Those three bench players, in Juan Toscano-Anderson, Mychal Mulder and Jordan Poole, were all very effective in their own ways.
Toscano-Anderson pulled a little trick out of his bag early on, holding the ball at the top of the key and looking like he was waiting to pass the ball and play as a screener. But he used that expectation as bait, turned and drove hard to the hood for this violent two-hander.
OK JUAN 😤 pic.twitter.com/ih3RlUD522
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 7, 2021
He played the role he always does, doing everything. His high IQ remained on prime display, setting screens, playing aggressive, intelligent defense and was aggressive as a playmaker offensively. He had 7 points (3-of-6, 1-of-4 from three), with 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
Meanwhile, Mychal Mulder was the long-promised three-point sniper he was billed as when the Warriors retained him this year. He just missed his career- and season-high of 26 points, finishing with 25 on 9-of-15 shooting, 7-of-13 from three with an assist.
And Jordan Poole got in on it, too, scoring 14 points (4-of-11, 0-for-6 from three), with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. His long range shooting is a concern as the playoffs, or play-ins near, but he’s always been streaky, and there’s every reason to believe he can be ice cold going into those games and turn it around.
Damion Lee doesn’t know if he’ll return this season
Before tonight’s game, Damion Lee held a brief presser with the media, when he announced that he wasn’t sure if he’d return this season. He didn’t rule it out or put a timeline on a potential return, but said there are a number of barriers he has to pass.
Lee contracted COVID-19 while on the Warriors’ road trip after receiving the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is roughly 67 percent effective, significantly less than the two-shot vaccines.
He said he doesn’t know how he contracted the virus, but has to get his stamina and conditioning back before he thinks about returning. His experience has been defined by a sort of, as he described it, perpetual “brain fog.”
Damion Lee says he was one of the rare few people that contracted Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
“There’s no timeline in the immediate future for me coming back and playing.” pic.twitter.com/hbQCUfIf84
— KNBR (@KNBR) May 7, 2021