The “no Steph Curry” experiment is blowing up in the Warriors’ face during the worst possible stretch of the season.
Not that this is by design, mind you. Golden State’s 95-88 loss Friday night in San Antonio is just the latest stumble in the rough patch we all knew was coming at some point. What no one, especially the Warriors, was counting on was the lingering Curry injury that has suddenly thrust a promising season into doubt. How long will Curry be out? How effective will he be when he returns? Can the Warriors beat anyone without him?
For most of Friday night, the answer to that final question appeared to be “yes.” Golden State hung right with the Spurs from the get-go, jumping out to a first quarter lead and staying alive all the way until the final moments. But there are no moral victories in the NBA, despite Mark Jackson’s post-game sentiments.
“I was really happy with my team’s energy and effort,” Jackson said. “We took care of the basketball. We competed. We lost to a very good team in their building.”
That may be, but the rest of the competitive Western Conference is not going to sit back, relax and let the Warriors work the bugs out. Without Curry in the fold, Golden State’s offense is still functional but not close to the same run, gun and stun unit that scores over 100 per game. Despite 20-point nights from three players (David Lee, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack), the Warriors failed to crack the 90-point mark against the Spurs, one game after failing to score 80 against Miami.
Carl Landry added 15 for the Dubs, but the visitors got next to zero production from their bench, while San Antonio let Tony Parker and Tim Duncan gradually picked apart the Warriors defense. Duncan’s double-double (24 points, ten boards) led the way.
The Warriors now receive a brief respite from the bevy of playoff-caliber opponents on their schedule. Next up are the New Orleans Hornets (13-26), but the Warriors had trouble with the young Hornets during their trip to Oakland on Dec. 18. It’s hard to argue that it isn’t the biggest “must-win” game of the season thus far for Golden State. A loss could not only drop the Warriors further in the standings, but also make for some bad morale heading into showdowns with the Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Golden State will certainly hope to have Curry back by the time they next take the floor. If he’s not out there, look out.