If it seemed as if Stephen Curry, who has struggled with his shot during the playoffs, was dialed-in during the second half for the Golden State Warriors‘ series-clinching 118-113 win over the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center in Game 6, there was a reason.
Chris Paul, in a bit of home-team gamesmanship, had seen to it that Steph couldn’t get his court time in for practice to try and improve on his 26-percent shooting from three-point range in the first five games of the series.
Curry planned to practice Thursday on the Toyota Center floor, but Paul showed up, invoked his privilege as a member of the home team to use the floor, and bumped Curry like an overbooked passenger on a plane.
LMAOOOO CHRIS PAUL GOTTA GET SHAMED FOR THIS pic.twitter.com/OW7Krlt3Dg
— Aaron Johnson (@AJohnsonNBA) May 11, 2019
Curry, for his part, was gracious toward Paul, even offering to split the court and work on his game purely in a half-court setup, but the point of the exercise wasn’t sharing. Chris Paul just wanted to throw an opponent off the practice court in hopes of diminishing his quality of play in the game.
At first, it appeared to work. During Friday’s contest, Curry had zero points in the first half thanks largely to getting in early foul trouble. But after halftime, a big swig of Bugs Bunny’s magic water from “Space Jam” or whatever he did in that locker room put “Chef Curry” into extra-spicy mode. He had 33 points, finishing the game with shooting totals of 9-of-20 from the field, 4-of-11 from three, and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.
After the game, Curry shouted at Paul, “Kick me off the court again, boy!” Draymond Green got in on the fun as well, yelling “Kick him off! Kick him off!”
And Klay Thompson, perfectly summing up the reaction on social media to Curry’s terrible start and amazing finish, said to his teammate without missing a beat, “You suck you’re great!”
Klay Thompson pointed at Steph after the game: “Hey Steph! You suck you’re great!” There was no pause between, “you suck” and “you’re great,” which more or less captures what it was like to experience Curry’s game through social media. pic.twitter.com/9bMh8H3WHG
— The 4-Point Play Podcast (@The_4PointPlay) May 11, 2019
Thompson had 27 points of his own as the “Splash Brothers” dominated the scoring in this one.
Meanwhile, on the Rockets’ side, James Harden had 35 points of his own, but the Rockets’ star hit just seven of his 12 free-throw attempts in a game his team lost by five points. Clint Capela had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, but his minus-12 on-court point differential was a continuation of the problem Houston had all series with getting outscored with their center on the floor.
Golden State won this game without the services of the injured Kevin Durant, and the guys who were there for the first title run back in 2015 were determined to show the Rockets that they didn’t need their two-time Finals MVP mercenary to dispose of a Mike D’Antoni-coached team in the playoffs.
Mike D’Antoni’s Playoff Resume
2005: 4-1 Loss vs Popovich
2006: 4-2 Loss vs Johnson
2007: 4-2 Loss vs Popovich
2008: 4-1 Loss vs Popovich
2011: 4-0 Loss vs Rivers
2013: 4-0 Loss vs Popovich
2017: 4-2 Loss vs Popovich
2018: 4-3 Loss vs Kerr
2019: 4-2 Loss vs Kerr pic.twitter.com/6s1qFUr9nA
— GlassHalfFultz (@pickuphoop) May 11, 2019
Curry dislocated a finger on his left hand in Game 2, but if he can continue to be this lethal with one hand, the Warriors seem poised to take this run all the way to a fifth straight NBA Finals appearance and third straight title.
Houston, meanwhile, can only watch the playoffs on television now and wonder if maybe Chris Paul should’ve acted more like a good neighbor and less like a guy who gave a great player a massive chip on his shoulder in a playoff elimination game.
Golden State now gets to scout Sunday’s Game 7 between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets as the Western Conference Finals await.
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