Stephen Curry screamed, turned and kicked the nearby wall, disgusted by another missed jumper. It was just practice and most of his other shots went in, so there was little reason for concern.
But if he keeps misfiring in games and the Golden State Warriors keep losing them, there might be.
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With Curry in a rare shooting slump and the Warriors on an even rarer losing streak, the NBA leaders are facing adversity – at least by their standards – as they visit the New York Knicks on Sunday.
Curry is 4 for 31 from 3-point range through three games of the Warriors’ road trip, with most of the last two games coming after Kevin Durant was injured. The Warriors found a way to win the opener in Philadelphia – when Curry missed all 11 attempts behind the arc – but they then dropped games in Washington and Chicago to end their NBA-record streak of regular-season games without consecutive losses at 146.
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“We haven’t lost two in row in a long time obviously and we’ve been in a rut on this trip in general,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Saturday at a court in the Manhattan building where the players’ union is headquartered. “We’re not making shots, but we’re also well aware that this is just a blip on the radar screen. We’ll be fine and I’m not concerned at all. We just have to play better.”
Klay Thompson is also struggling, and the Splash Brothers really dried up Thursday, going a combined 3 for 22 on 3-pointers in a 94-87 loss in Chicago. But the Warriors don’t seem stressed and don’t think defenses are crowding the guards more than normal without having to worry about Durant.
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“We’ve had plenty of openings and creating decent shots, just haven’t gone in in the last three games,” Curry said. “But that happens as you go through a long season, you just have to fight through it and not let it affect how you play. Obviously if we make a couple more shots in Chicago the game’s a little different. Philly it was a struggle but we found a way to win, so just got to stay on the mission of letting the offense create good things for us and still have confidence to knock down shots.”
The Warriors were held to their lowest point total of the season Thursday. Curry and Thompson were a combined 15 of 49 from the field. Those are performances Golden State can’t afford without Durant, its leading scorer who is lost for at least four weeks with a knee injury.
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“It happens to the best of them, so you just move on,” All-Star Draymond Green said. “You try to make plays, get them the ball and get them open shots, knowing that more often than not they’ll fall. But everybody has shooting struggles. Michael Jordan had shooting struggles and the list goes on.”
This was Durant’s first game in the nation’s capital since signing with the Warriors; the Wizards – and their fans – had hoped to try to sign him as a free agent last offseason.
It was also Durant’s first game against his former coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Scott Brooks, who joined Washington this season.
“I have a lot of respect for him and think he’s a great player. He’s happy where he’s at. We had a good run together. I’m glad he’s happy, I’m glad he’s successful, but he’s always going to be successful. He’s a worker; he competes,” Brooks said. “I got nothing but positive things to say about him, not one bad thing. … He’s a winner. I’ve said it for years and I’ve meant it and I still mean it. The guy is a winner more off the court, and he handles himself with class and dignity and respect for the game and his coaches and teammates. You want … all your players to be a pro like him.”
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Durant said before Tuesday’s tipoff that he used to get too worked up about playing in front of friends and family in Washington. But that’s no longer an issue, he says.
Asked what he anticipated the reaction from spectators to be, Durant said: “I don’t know. I don’t expect it to be anything.”
New Orleans’ Anthony Davis scored an All-Star record 52 points in this year’s game, 10 points more than the mark by Wilt Chamberlain that stood for 55 years. The West has flirted with 200 points in each of the last two seasons – 196 in 2016, 192 this year. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 dunks by himself, and LeBron James was taking (and once, made) shots from China jerseys and the midcourt area.
“We collectively want to try to make All-Star weekend better for the fans,” Paul told reporters in Milwaukee on Friday. “All the way around. Even in CBA talks and stuff like that, that was one of the things that the players, the owners and everybody was talking about. Trying to fix that, spice it up a little bit to keep it interesting.”
Bucks coach Jason Kidd, a perennial All-Star as a player, is confident the league will find the right fix.
“Adam’s a very smart man,” Kidd said, “and they’ll figure it out.”
For this year’s game, the voting process was changed – fan votes were no longer the sole basis for selecting starters, but instead part of a formula that also took player and media balloting into account. The player-voting element in particular was criticized by some NBA coaches like Golden State’s Steve Kerr, who said it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been.
“In an All-Star game like this, guys aren’t trying to get hurt,” Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving said after the All-Star Game. “We all enjoy the company of each other’s presence. But at the same token, us as competitors, when it starts getting close, you can feel it. For me, I would love to play in a competitive game.”