Two nights after turning in the performance of his life, Warriors guard Stephen Curry came back to Earth Friday as Golden State fell 94-86 at Boston.
Curry connected on just 6-of-22 shots from the field, but still managed 25 points thanks to a 10-for-10 performance from the free-throw line. His 16 misses matched his career-high and the team’s 86 points was its third lowest total in a game this year, being held to less by both the Heat and the Lakers.
[RELATED: Breakdown of Curry's 54-point night]
“Just didn't knock (shots) down and couldn't get any offensive rebounds,” Curry said. “A couple tip-ins, but other than that it was kind of slow on the offensive end.”
Golden State (33-26) finished 32-of-94 (34.0 percent) from the field as a team as it lost its third straight game. The Warriors will look to regroup Saturday at Philadelphia where they wrap up their five-game road trip.
“It just makes this next game that much more important and that's all you can do at this point, try to win this last one before you head home,” Curry said. “We have a heavy home schedule down the stretch so if we can get this next one and make up for these last three games that'll be a good feeling for us.”
The Warriors close the season with 16 of the final 22 games at Oracle Arena.
It was clear early on Boston guard Avery Bradley -- one of the league’s best on-ball defenders -- took guarding Curry as a personal challenge.
However, shadowing Curry everywhere he went in the first half had mixed results. He was just 3-of-9 from the field, but the extra attention allowed him to get the free-throw line eight times.
“That's his reputation. That's what he does. That's how helps his team,” Curry said. “I knew that coming in, I was prepared for it. When you play heavy minutes, it does add on because you have to worry about him in the backcourt and try to get the ball up the court so.”
Bradley picked up his fifth foul at the 8:00 mark of the third quarter, at which point Boston went to a zone defense with Courtney Lee seeing the most time on Curry.
The decision to play zone against the league’s top three-point shooting team (39.8 percent) was something Boston coach Doc Rivers considered during the Friday morning shootaround.
“This morning, my thought was, 'How many times do they get zoned?'” Rivers said. “I just though that they shoot the ball so well. I don't think they're zoned that much.”
Rivers said an assistant coached did the research and found the Warriors had been zoned only 70 minutes all year -- roughly 2.5 percent of the time.
For the most part, it worked, but both Rivers and Warriors coach Mark Jackson pointed out that it had as much to do with the Warriors missing open shots as it did with the zone defense.
“(Curry) missed some open shots too tonight,” Rivers said. “I think maybe the wear-down effect from the whole game of being getting up in to got him to take some tough shots too. But he did miss shots that Steph makes. I think Steph's the best shooter in our league and he missed some open ones.”
Curry, who set the NBA single-game high this season with 54 points at New York on Wednesday, continued to struggle in the second half. Unlike against the Knicks when his shots came within the flow of the offense, he took to forcing shots and couldn’t find any sort of rhythm.
After a Carl Landry jumper made it 60-60 with 3:55 left in the third quarter, Boston closed on a 9-2 run to cap off a quarter in which the teams combined for just 35 points. From there, the Warriors couldn’t make much of a dent in the Boston lead.
In what is beginning to seem like a regular occurrence, the Warriors fell behind by double digits early, but battled back to make it close by halftime. Boston led by as many as 13 in the first quarter and 11 in the second before a 13-3 Warriors run midway the second tightened things up.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 26 points to lead Boston (31-27), while Jeff Green added 18 off the bench.
Harrison Barnes had 15 of his 16 points in the first half for Golden State.
#WarriorsTalk Tweet of the Game
Avery Bradley really hounding Steph, who is dribbling way more than he wants to, I'd assume, and making turnovers. #warriorstalk— Bobby G (@bobbyg27) March 2, 2013
Next up – Philadelphia
Golden State wraps up its five-game road trip on Saturday at Philadelphia at 4 p.m. PT. The Warriors won the first meeting between the teams this year, 96-89, on Dec. 28 in Oakland as David Lee scored 25 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Carl Landry had 15 points and 1 rebounds off the bench.
All-star point guard Jrue Holiday has been one of the lone bright spots for a 76ers team that has lost its last seven games. Despite being 12 games under .500, Philadelphia (22-34) remains just six games behind Milwaukee for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.