Attack-mode Curry makes statement vs Blazers: 'Should've had 45 or 50'

Attack-mode Curry makes statement vs Blazers: 'Should've had 45 or 50'

OAKLAND -- The sequence of the night, without question, belonged to Kevin Durant, who in eight exquisite seconds managed to showcase his two-way impact.

The loudest statement made by the Warriors in a 125-117 win over Portland, however, was that conveyed by Stephen Curry, who for most of his 36 minutes on the floor looked like the guy with which the NBA has become familiar.

The guy who won back-to-back MVP awards.

Curry attacked early, with a comprehensively strong first quarter (9 points, four rebounds, four assists), and then came back in the second half to do most of the offensive heavy lifting that kept the plucky Trail Blazers at bay.

He totaled 35 points on 12-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-13 beyond the arc, but also added seven rebounds and five assists. Curry was not perfect (five turnovers, utterly shocking back-to-back misses at the free throw line), but he was forceful and productive.

When Curry brings that combination -- along with the bounty delivered by Durant -- the Warriors are nearly impossible to beat.

“Tonight, he was amazing,” Durant said. “He should’ve had 45 or 50; he missed some easy ones. But for the most part, 25 looks, I’m living with it. Five turnovers? That shows that he’s being aggressive. In order for us to get where we need to go, we need him to do that. And everybody is going to follow suit. He’s going to open it up for everybody.”

The 25 shots are the second most this season for Curry. Such assertiveness is something his teammates seem to have been urging of him.

“At some points in the game,” Draymond Green said, “I was like, ‘Yo, shoot that.’ There’s not like texts or side conversations where it’s like, ‘Shoot the ball.’ He knows to shoot. Everybody makes a big deal of him not taking a lot of shots in certain games or here and there. He’s a smart player. He plays within the flow of the game. Tonight he took 25 shots. I don’t think it was because someone went up to him and said, ‘Hey Steph, shoot the ball tonight.’ “

The Warriors didn’t create much separation until the third quarter, when an 11-0 run turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead at 81-74 on a dazzling reverse layup by Curry with 8:18 left in the quarter. He scored 12 points in the quarter.

For perspective, Portland’s starting lineup scored 11 points in the quarter. So, yes, Curry was looking for his shot while also being mindful of his teammates.

“I’m not going to fall into temptation of abandoning what makes us successful just to say I shot more,” Curry said. “I have to be aggressive and not turn down shots that I usually take and make. The way we’ve been flowing and especially down the stretch, you have to be able to rise up for those kinds of moments. So it’s a little bit of both.”

Seeing Curry in attack mode is, to be sure, a welcome sight for the Warriors and their fans, some of which are still trying to shake Curry’s languid performance in the marquee game at Cleveland on Christmas Day.

“I’m not going to overreact because he’s not getting 40 every night,” said Durant, who scored 30 points. “I just told him to be aggressive. Don’t even worry about anything else. If you’ve got a big guy on you, go to work. That’s what we want you to do, especially me. It’s fun when he gets everybody else going, when he’s aggressive.”

Which brings us to Durant and his sequence, in which his own aggression provided more fun for the sellout crowd than anything Curry or anyone else did.

The Blazers were seeking the go-ahead basket late in the first quarter, and CJ McCollum went up for a layup. Durant blocked it. The rebound went to power forward Noah Vonleh, who took it right back up, only to be rejected by Durant.

Two blocks in three seconds, with the ball going to Andre Iguodala and Durant sprinting ahead on the right wing. Iguodala took four dribbles and zipped a pass to Durant just beyond the 3-point stripe. Bucket.

“It just ignites the crowd and ignites our offense and sends a message to the other team,” Curry said of Durant. “It just brings another level of energy.”

There was no shortage of energy. Not from Durant and certainly not from Curry. It was, in the end, too much for the Blazers.

Kerr's message to Warriors fans who want more pick-and-roll for Curry

Kerr's message to Warriors fans who want more pick-and-roll for Curry

Are you one of the people who thinks the Warriors need to put Steph Curry in more pick-and-roll/ball screen situations? 

If you are, that's OK.

Steve Kerr -- when asked about Draymond Green's role this past season -- talked about how Golden State uses Curry.

"Before the season started, I told our staff that I thought Draymond was gonna have the biggest adjustment to make," Kerr said on the TK Show on Wednesday. "And he made it really easily. And I think a big part of that is the fact that he's a point-forward at his core offensively.

"He handles the ball and he's our leading assist guy. And all of a sudden he had another shooter and another weapon to work with. And I thought that was really important that we established early that Draymond was still gonna be an integral part of the offense.

"I was worried about that -- I thought because KD was gonna need the ball and Steph already had the ball -- I was worried that Draymond would be a little left out of the offense and that would affect his overall game and his defense.

"In fact, it's one of the things -- I think important for our fans to understand -- because one of the things I get all the time is, 'Why don't you just put Steph in a screen-and-roll every play? Why don't you give him the ball every play?' And I think what people who follow our team closely understand is that the number of playmakers we have on our team is what makes us who we are ... drive and kick and passing and moving -- it keeps everybody engaged."

For the third year in a row, the Warriors ranked nearly the bottom of the league in pick-and-rolls.

Yet, that didn't stop Golden State from posting the best offensive rating (113.2) in NBA history.

It's also important to remember that following the Warriors' loss to the Cavs on Christmas Day -- when Curry scored 15 points and took just 11 shots -- Kerr acknowledged that he needs to put Curry in a better position to succeed.

[REWIND: Steph Curry 'definitely' wants Warriors to run more pick-and-roll]

"But for the people who say, 'Just give it to Steph every time and let him go,' well now you're alienating Draymond, you're alienating Andre, you're alienating Shaun. You're basically telling them to be spotup 3-point shooters," Kerr continued. "And now I think you're losing a lot emotionally from what makes the team tick, and you're taking away the energy that Draymond gets from being a playmaker and getting 8 or 10 assists.

"So that's the balance we always try to find with our group -- get everybody involved and energized."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Reports: Spurs shopping LaMarcus Aldridge

Reports: Spurs shopping LaMarcus Aldridge

It appears the LaMarcus Aldridge in San Antonio could be nearing its end.

The Spurs are reportedly talking to several teams about a potential trade, according to multiple reports.

In the summer of 2015, Aldridge signed a 4-year deal worth over $84 million.

He can opt out of his deal next summer.

The 5-time All-Star will turn 32 years old in July.

His 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season were his lowest totals since his rookie campaign.

In Games 2 through 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors, he averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot less than 39 percent from the field.

Aldridge's former team -- the Portland Trail Blazers -- would be interested in acquiring Aldridge, according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller