Four takeaways from the Warriors’ comeback win over the Clippers

Falling out of bounds as the ball dropped through the hoop, Stephen Curry screamed into the Chase Center rafters in the midst of the Warriors’ 115-105 comeback win over the Clippers Friday.

Between the third and fourth quarters, the Warriors leaned on a small-ball lineup and a 34-6 run to earn a signature win over one of the NBA’s title contenders.

Curry’s shout was prompted by a fastbreak spurred by a Clippers turnover and a Kent Bazemore assist that cut a 22-point deficit to six at the end of the third quarter. Curry, who finished with 38 points on 13-for-24 shooting (9-for-14 from 3-point range) and 11 assists, paced the Warriors’ decisive run, while Andrew Wiggins added 16 points and Eric Paschall chipped in 12.

With the Warriors up 100-97 with 5:15 to go, Curry checked back into the game, as did Kawhi Leonard for the Clippers. Leonard quickly popped in a 13-footer to narrow Golden State’s lead the one, but did not score again. He finished with 24 points, four assists and three rebounds while Paul George added 25 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Here are four takeaways from the game.

Steve Kerr’s decision to go small changed the game: Though the offense struggled to find a flow early, head coach Steve Kerr’s decision to bench a struggling Kelly Oubre Jr. in the middle of the third quarter and play out most of the second half with a three-guard lineup helped create space for Curry to cook.

Alongside Mychal Mulder (plus-27), Damion Lee (plus-22) and Bazemore (plus-16), Curry scored 24 of his points in the second half. Most of those minutes were also played with Paschall (plus-21) at center, which added another element of playmaking on the floor.

“It gives us a little better floor spacing,” Kerr said. “The Clippers are an excellent defensive team. They’re long and active and athletic, and if you can’t create space, then you’re just in a forest of trees out there. So I think that group was able to get some stops, get out in transition and open up the game a little bit for us.”

A little bit of room is all Curry needs to pick up some momentum. Playing with a traditional center and non-shooters in the first half, Curry was dealing with the “trees.”

But when not facing a double-team, Curry can dribble his way into enough space even against a stalwart defender like George.

The Warriors are now 5-0 when Curry scores at least 30 points.

For the defense, it was a tale of two halves: Through the start of the season, the Warriors have struggled to finish defensive possessions by rebounding misses and not fouling. Entering the game, Golden State was third to last in rebounding percentage (47) and allowed the most free-throw attempts per game (30.6). In the first half, it looked like more of the same. The Clippers shot 58.7% overall, made eight of their 15 3-point attempts and won the rebound battle 24-14. Missed box-outs led to extra possessions for the Clippers and a 22-point deficit. That changed in the second half, when the Warriors out-rebounded the Clippers 24-13 despite going small. In the game, they allowed only 13 free throws.

“We talked about it at halftime,” Curry said. “The little things against this team are important in terms of flying around, talking on defense, but also getting rebounds.”

Kelly Oubre Jr.’s struggles continue: Curry and Oubre have logged more minutes together (234) than any other Warriors’ duo and have been outscored by 50 points in those minutes. Asked after the game if he’d consider taking Oubre out of the starting lineup, Kerr said: “I don’t anticipate changing anything. It’s so early in the season.” That’s fine, and probably the right approach. But even if Kerr doesn’t make a change to the starting lineup, he should figure out a way to split Curry and Oubre up more. Too many times, Oubre is just in Curry’s way because he’s simply not paying attention. Here, Oubre passes to Bazemore and stops moving. Curry is trying to relocate and tells Oubre to clear out, but Oubre just stands there. That’s no bueno in Golden State’s offense.

But if Kerr does move Oubre around, where do you play him? Do you inject Oubre — who has missed 36 of his 42 3-point attempts this season — into the burgeoning second unit that is thriving with spacing? Do you swap his rotation pattern with Wiggins, who seems to be finding a groove? Do you simply play him less, risking further damage to his confidence? There isn’t an easy answer.

Farewell to Fred Kast: Kast, the Warriors’ scorekeeper of 57 years, worked his final game Friday and was awarded the game ball by the team. Kast was a constant through 20 coaching changes, 23 playoff appearances and four championships, and worked from his spot at the scorer’s table from as far back as the Cow Palace, to Oracle Arena and Chase Center. He retires because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus. After the buzzer, Warriors players and coaches hung around and waited for Kast to finish his final score book, took pictures and let him shoot at the basket. Very cool.

Contributed by local news sources

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