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‘Definitely fired me up’: Breaking down rare Steph Curry technical foul

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The chest-banging, fist-swinging, head-bobbing, pregame soccer-juggling Stephen Curry is one of the most animated players in the NBA.  

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, typically exuberant Curry absorbed some body contact from Terance Mann on the fast break, but didn’t get the foul call he was expecting. He popped up from the court and yelled at the baseline official. 

“That’s a foul!” the PG-ified Curry screamed. 

Jordan Poole had never seen Curry like this. Not in person, at least. 

“I’ve seen him throw a mouthpiece on TV before,” the third-year guard said in reference to Curry’s infamous Finals ejection. 

But what happened after Curry’s first technical of the season was more revealing than the outburst itself. The Warriors led by nine at the time of the technical. Three Curry 3-pointers and another bucket later, the Warriors grinded the Clippers down for their seventh straight victory, a comfortable 105-90 win.

“I thought I got fouled, so I let my emotions go,” Curry said postgame. “Definitely fired me up, fired our team up. You have to be able to direct that energy into putting the ball into the basket after that. That’s where I feel like we do that well. You don’t let it become a distraction for the rest of the game. It obviously helped open up the game. Those three possessions were kind of killer.” 

Curry rarely loses his cool. Since the 2017-18 season, including playoffs, he’s been called for eight technical fouls. That’s one tech for every 30 games. 

The Warriors broadcast joked after the tantrum whether to call him Spicy Curry or Psycho Curry. Regardless of the moniker, opposing teams should never want to see that side of the two-time MVP. 

“It was as upset as I’ve seen Steph in a long time, and I was as upset as I’ve been in a long time, too,” GSW coach Steve Kerr said postgame “It’s kind of a miracle I didn’t get a technical. But it seemed to get him going. Whatever it takes, I guess?” 

On the specific play, Mann was tasked with stopping a two-on-one. Mann tried to jump straight up to contest at the rim, but made contact with Curry’s body when he was midair. 

“He clearly got fouled,” Kerr said. “Steph is a guy who’s just so competitive. When he knows he got fouled, especially in a play like that in transition, out in the open and easy to see and he doesn’t get the call. Every once in a while, he’s going to snap. When he knows he’s right, the competitor in him comes out and he’ll kind of lose his mind a little bit. But it often spurs him, like it did in this instance.” 

Emotions ran high all throughout Golden State’s 105-90 win over the Clippers in Staples Center. Physical defense from both teams led to several questionable calls, and there were four technical fouls called.

And Curry’s wasn’t the only one that jolted the Warriors. When Clippers center Isaiah Hartenstein got T’d up after standing over Jordan Poole, Poole proceeded to erupt for 15 third-quarter points. 

But it was Curry’s post-technical performance that led the Warriors past Los Angeles. He said the fourth quarter felt like a playoff atmosphere, and the confluence of factors fueled him.

After his third post-tech 3, Curry celebrated by fake T-ing up himself. It was clear the call from four minutes ago was still on his mind. After Clippers coach Ty Lue called timeout, Curry banged his chest repeatedly with both fists.

Curry’s first 3 came 75 seconds before the third of his dry ice flurry. It represented nine points of a 12-3 Warriors blitz that ended Los Angeles’ hopes. Eleven of Curry’s 33 points came after the technical. 

“Whatever it takes to get going,” Curry said. “Once the spark is lit, let the emotions fly, however long that lasts, as soon as there’s an intentional moment or some like voice in your head, ‘alright let’s play basketball.’ I love to control that moment. If you don’t it spirals into doing something other than what you’re supposed to be doing out there. You can overdo it. So let it out, play basketball.”

 

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