Curry's shooting vs Bucks sends calming breeze through Oracle

Curry's shooting vs Bucks sends calming breeze through Oracle

OAKLAND -- The focus of this Warriors resurgence will be on the defense, as it should be, especially after they closed out a perfect week at home Saturday night by limiting the Bucks to 40.4-percent shooting.

But there was palpable relief with seeing Stephen Curry’s shots falling through the rim so cleanly the net barely noticed.

The defense, the Warriors know they can bring at any time. It’s their staple, the one basic element they can rely on times of strife.

But Curry’s offense Saturday night was the eye-opener. If the defense drove this 117-92 victory over Milwaukee, his shooting sent a gentle, relaxing breeze through Oracle Arena that dried those beads of sweat that had been collecting for weeks.

It wasn’t so much Curry’s 28 points but the sheer efficiency of it all: 9-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, and 4-of-4 from the line. It was the first game in three weeks in which Curry didn’t miss most of his 3-point shots.

With the sight of those shots going down, the team’s swagger, which took a massive tumble when Kevin Durant went down with an injury on Feb. 28, has materialized once again. That’s the magic of Hot Steph.

“Thank God I rested him last week,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr joked, referring to Curry being held out of the March 11 game at San Antonio.

“No, Steph was great. Without any sarcasm, getting through that stretch last week, we know, looking at the schedule it was going to be a tough stretch. We didn’t know Kevin was going to get hurt. But it was the double-whammy.”

Curry surely appeared refreshed. In three games at home this week he was 13-of-28 from beyond the ar.

In the seven games before this three-game homestand, for all practical purposes road games with a gruel travel schedule, Curry was 18-of-76 from deep.

Not that he ever wavered.

“Keep shooting,” Curry said. “That’s it, really. Can’t get discouraged by misses, can’t get too big-headed about good games. Keep pushing, keep your routine up and feed off your teammates’ energy. And keep the confidence.”

Curry made his first 3-ball, a 26-footer with 4:53 left in the first quarter. He missed his second and third attempts, then made his last four in a five in a row, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the first and a 33-footer in the final minute of the half.

“He’s going to make shots,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “You can be on him. He’s going to make them from halfcourt. He’s going to make some very tough shots . . . that’s just who he is.”

That’s not who he was for the better part of three weeks. Those days appear to have faded into history.

“I haven’t been worried about him at all,” teammate Andre Iguodala said. “I really look at his bounce, more than anything, the way he’s running and the way he’s shooting. The schedule is brutal; 82 games is a long time. That’s to be expected.”

 

Jazz hold off Clippers in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

Jazz hold off Clippers in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- Gordon Hayward scored 27 points, Utah controlled the paint, and the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 96-92 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Hayward returned after missing most of Utah's win in Game 4 because of food poisoning that caused him to lose weight and energy.

Chris Paul's 3-pointer drew the Clippers within two with 5 seconds left. After George Hill hit two free throws, Paul struggled getting the ball under control near the sideline and couldn't do anything as time expired.

The Jazz made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including three by Rodney Hood, who finished with 16 points.

Paul led the Clippers with 28 points and J.J. Redick added 26 with injured star Blake Griffin watching from the bench, his right foot encased in a black walking boot.

The Jazz can clinch the series with a victory in Game 6 on Friday night in Salt Lake City.

The Clippers rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the fourth to tie the game. They made 12 of 15 free throws in the final period, but never managed to take the lead.

Paul and Hayward were called for double technical fouls with 40 seconds to go. Paul had already pushed Hayward in the back after they got tied up scrambling for a rebound in front of Utah's bench. Hayward made both shots for a 90-85 lead.

Joe Johnson's step back jumper extended Utah's lead to 92-87.

Neither team shot well, but the Jazz were better at most everything else. They owned a 34-28 edge in the paint, and the team that has done so has won each of the first five games in the best-of-7 series.

Utah outscored the Clippers on second-chance and fast-break baskets.

Utah took the game's first double-digit lead early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by Hood that made it 69-58.

The Clippers clawed back with an 11-0 run featuring five straight free throws by Redick and two consecutive 3-pointers from Paul that tied the game at 69-all.

Suddenly, the quiet crowd was on its feet cheering and Utah called time out.

The Jazz regrouped to take a 77-69 lead. They ran off eight straight, capped by Haywood's 3-pointer after the Clippers' defense shut down Hill inside and forced him to pass out to the perimeter with the shot clock winding down.

TIP-INS:
Jazz: Neither team has won by more than eight points so far in the series.

Clippers: Griffin's injured big right toe needs further evaluation before it's decided whether he'll require surgery. ... G Austin Rivers played 17 minutes in his return from a strained left hamstring. He was 0 of 4 and had two points. ... They fell to 1-11 all-time in Game 5 of a playoff series that was tied 2-2.

 

Blazers GM: Former Warriors big man will not play for Portland next year

Blazers GM: Former Warriors big man will not play for Portland next year

Festus Ezeli will not be back with the Blazers next season, Portland GM Neil Olshey said on Tuesday.

Last summer -- after the Warriors let Ezeli walk in free agency following the addition of Kevin Durant -- he signed a 2-year contract worth just over $15 million.

But Year 2 was essentially a club option with a $1 million buyout.

A knee injury prevented Ezeli from ever suiting up for the Blazers this season.

He underwent cadaver ligament replacement surgery in early March.

The Warriors drafted Ezeli 30th overall in 2012.

Over 46 games (13 starts) with Golden State in 2015-16, he averaged 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds over 16.7 minutes per contest.