Curry's 32 helps W's back on track, past Blazers

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Curry's 32 helps W's back on track, past Blazers

BOX SCORE
OAKLAND Stephen Curry had 32 points, Monta Ellis had 12 assists and David Lee had 26 points as the Warriors held off the Portland Trail Blazers and got their first win on a six-game road trip after starting with consecutive losses.Warriors 101, Blazers 93Star of the game: Stephen Curry scored a season-high 32 points, including 6-for-8 from 3-point range, to help the Warriors snap a three-game losing streak.He took what the defense gave him, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. He picked them apart in pick-and-roll situations. When they didnt play him he came off as a scorer, when they doubled him he put David in position to make shots and trust that David would make the right decisions so others would get involved.
Unsung star: Ekpe Udoh finished with four points, seven rebounds and two blocks, but it was his defense on Portlands LaMarcus Aldridge down the stretch that proved big.Aldridge, one of the games premier power forwards, had just two points in the fourth quarter and it was largely because of Udoh.During a big stretch late, with the game still in the balance, Udoh forced Aldridge into a miss and turnover on consecutive possessions, which allowed Golden State some breathing room.When Ekpe Udoh plays like that he leaves me no choice but to leave him in the game and trust hes going to get the job done, Jackson said. Outstanding defense against one of the best if not the best power forward in the game. Not that he wont score, but he made (Aldridge) work for everything.Aldridge finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.Key stretch: With the Warriors clinging to a three-point lead with just under five minutes remaining, they got four consecutive stops and a couple buckets of their own to take a 95-88 lead with 2:55 remaining. From that point, the Warriors brought it home.Currys big third quarter: The Warriors turned a 53-48 halftime deficit into a 79-73 lead after three quarters, and it was largely because of Stephen Curry.Curry had 16 points in the period, which included four 3-pointers. Through three quarters, Curry had 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including 6-for-8 from beyond the arc.For the game, the Warriors went 11-for-20 from 3-point range.I cant (explain it), Portland coach Nate McMillan said. We know what Curry is capable of doing. I know that they came out red hot. We lost (Brandon) Rush a couple of times in the first half and carrying it into the second half. These guys can shoot the 3-ball.Ellis the non-scorer: Ellis had an uncharacteristically low field goal attempt total on Wednesday, taking just nine shots and making two. Ellis didn't attempt a field goal in the third quarter and certainly wasn't his aggressive self -- at least as far as aggressive taking shots.He finished with a season-high 12 assists and three steals."You could tell s of late that teams are keyingin on him especially when he has the ball, waiting for the pick and roll," Curry said. "They were loading the defense to his side. He still did a great job of attacking and making plays on the weak side where we had shooters spacing. That's what leaders do."Going small: For the final four minutes of the second quarter, Jackson went small very small. He had Nate Robinson, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis all playing together.No doubt four minutes was a small sample size for that threesome but the game was tied 42-42 when Jackson went in that direction. At halftime, Portland led 53-48.Tyler sighting: Rookie Jeremy Tyler got some playing time in the first half a rarity. In fact, Tyler logged seven minutes in the first and second quarters, and he had logged just eight minutes the entire season up to that point. Tyler didnt do badly while he was in there, and neither did the Warriors. When Tyler entered the game with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Warriors were down 26-24.When Tyler checked out midway through the second period, the Warriors were hanging in there, tied with Portland 38-38.Tyler was spoon-fed a dunk and a layup and wound up with five points and a rebound during that stint.Thompson making strides: Its no secret that one of the best things about the Warriors this early season has been their bench. And rookie Klay Thompson has certainly gotten better since the beginning of the season.After starting slowly and tentatively, Thompson has become more aggressive and is looking for his shot more. The upshot is Thompson is now shooting 44.7 percent from 3-point range.Hes much more confident, for whatever reason, Jackson said before the game. I thought early on in the season he turned down shots. Who knows what the explanation was. After talking with him, I forgot which game it was, at halftime I told him Reggie Miller would never shake his head after missing a shot.Hes a shooter and I did not want him turning down shots. I promised him I would never take him out of the game for missing a shot, and thats a fact. Hes been everything we thought he would be when we drafted him and hes only going to get better.

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

OAKLAND -- The Warriors studied video and practiced for nearly two hours Saturday, completing Phase 1 of the plan they’ll take into the NBA Finals.

Everybody on the roster is healthy, including starting center Zaza Pachulia, who missed Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals with a heel contusion, and seldom-used forward Kevon Looney, out for seven weeks with a hip strain.

“We had a great film session with the team, a great discussion with the team and put our keys up on the board for our guys and went over that stuff with them before practice,” acting head coach Mike Brown said after practice.

Defending Cavaliers star LeBron James surely was among the topics to generate considerable dialogue. It provides some relief that Andre Iguodala says he feels fine after battling knee soreness in the Western Conference Finals.

It was Iguodala, after all, who earned the NBA Finals MVP award after doing such a fine job as a primary defender of James in 2015. It’s an altogether different test now that the Cavs are healthy and have a surplus of shooters surrounding James.

“You still try to watch film, any new sets or anything that they try to implement for their team, because he’s the type of player that is so dynamic he can hurt you in different ways, especially with his passing ability,” Iguodala said.

When facing elite scorers, the Warriors typically vary their defensive looks. In addition to Iguodala, James will see some Kevin Durant, some Draymond Green and probably some Matt Barnes.

Nearly as important as Iguodala’s health is that of Pachulia. Though Cleveland is more willing to go small than in the past, there will be times when a big body, such as Pachulia, will be needed to keep Cavs big man Tristan Thompson off the glass.

Thompson had five of Cleveland’s 18 offensive rebounds last Christmas Day, when the Cavaliers came back for a 109-108 victory over the Warriors in Cleveland. The Warriors lost the rebounding battle by nine (60-51).

When the teams met three weeks later in Oakland, the Warriors pulled off a 126-91 rout largely on the strength of outrebounding Cleveland 58-35. Thompson had two offensive rebounds and five overall, while Pachulia gobbled up 13 rebounds -- 10 on the defensive glass.

The Cavs outscored the Warriors 17-8 in second-chance points in the first game, but the teams tied, 12-12, in that category in the rematch.

“It’s part of their strength,” Pachulia said. “Second-chance points are a killer. It’s something we have to take away. That’s one of the keys for us.”

 

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson spent nearly eight minutes Saturday answering a variety of questions, many of which were related to his diminished offense this postseason and his primary defensive assignment in the upcoming NBA Finals.

Mired in a shooting slump, by his standards, the Warriors guard now has to confront the fabulous offensive arsenal of Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

As much as Thompson would love to rediscover his shooting touch in Game 1 on Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the Warriors may be more delighted if he can prevent Irving from finding his.

“I take pride in (playing) both sides of the ball, defense as equally as offense,” Thompson said after practice at the team’s downtown facility. “Whether or not my shot falls, I can always control that part of the game.”

The Warriors are undefeated (12-0) this postseason despite Thompson averaging only 14.4 points (compared to 22.3 in the regular season) on 38.3-percent shooting from the field (46.8 in the regular season), 36.4 percent beyond the arc (41.4 in the regular season).

That spotless postseason record is, in part, a reflection of Thompson’s work on defense. In all three rounds, he has guarded the opponent’s most dangerous backcourt player.

“I couldn’t be happier with how he’s helped us win games,” acting head coach Mike Brown said.

Next up for Thompson is Irving, who has hit game-winning shots in each of the last two times Cleveland has beaten the Warriors, a 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2015 Finals and a midrange fadeaway jumper last Christmas Day at Quicken Loans Arena.

Irving has played well this postseason but lately has lifted his game to another level. In the five-game Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, Irving averaged 25.8 points per game, while shooting 62.2 percent.

He was particularly dazzling as the Cavs finished off the Celtics in Games 4 and 5, averaging 33.0 points on 64.9-percent shooting.

Irving’s recent run prompted Cleveland teammate LeBron James to label him one of the best one-on-one players of all time, a compliment Brown did not argue.

“There are a lot of guys that can shoot the 3, but that’s all they can do,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that can dribble drive and finish at the rim, but that’s all they can do. Here’s a guy that can shoot the 3 off the catch-and-shoot, he could shoot the 3 off the dribble. He has medium-game pull-up. He has medium-game floater. And then he can get to the rim. And when he gets to the rim, he can finish in traffic among 7-footers.

“The way he puts English on the ball, how high he gets it off the glass when he needs to, all those things play into a factor of why he is one of the greatest one-on-one players of all time.”

Thompson said Irving’s offense “easily” belongs in the discussion with the league’s best, a group including the likes of MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, as well as Thompson’s teammate, reigning MVP Stephen Curry.

“He’s done it in big moments, so you’ve got to give him credit,” Thompson said of Irving. “Not only have I seen him do it in the pros, but I’ve seen him do it with the USA Team, too. Kyrie’s a very tough guard. We’ve got a game plan for him, and it’ll be fun.”

Thompson said he will try to crowd Irving, contest every shot and not be outhustled. Still, he concedes that may not be enough.

There is, however, one other thing Thompson cited that could impact Irving’s offensive production. Make him work on defense, something both Warriors guards have the ability to do.

For Thompson, that means finding his stroke.

“I’d like to see the ball go in the basket,” he said. “It has, just not as frequently as I want. But that means nothing now. That’s in the past. It wouldn’t have mattered if I shot lights-out if we didn’t finish the job off.

“Now that we’re here, it’s a clean slate. It’s time to go. Can’t be worried about a few bad shooting games or the percentages when you went 12-0. You’ve just got to do what you can and have the intentions to win the game, not to go out there and score a number of points but to just go out there and win the game and make winning plays. That’s what I’m focused on.”