You’d have to look beyond the splendid diversion that was Stephen Curry to see the warts exposed by the Warriors on Halloween Night.
Look past Curry’s 53 points, his lights-out shooting, his accurate blind passes and his defensive thievery and then, only then, will you settle upon some material the coaching staff can utilize to provide sharp instruction to a few of Curry’s teammates.
“From the seat I was in, there’s so much other stuff you’re thinking about that you don’t really have time to really enjoy what he was doing,” interim coach Luke Walton said of Curry’s mesmerizing performance in a 134-120 win over the Pelicans.
When Walton and his assistants study the video they’re going to see that Curry spared the Warriors a defeat they would have righteously earned by failing in several ways to match the Pelicans on their floor at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
The Warriors were outrebounded, 48-38. They were outscored in the paint, 56-36. They scored only 1 second-chance point, while New Orleans poured in 19.
Victory was achieved courtesy of Curry and just enough dogged defense to suppress a team playing without three of its rotation players. The Warriors forced 16 turnovers, off which they scored 24 points. The Pelicans scored 11 points of 10 Warriors giveaways.
This was, for the Warriors, one of those nights on which talent – namely Curry – and just enough grit made the difference.
“It was just a hard NBA road game against a playoff-caliber team,” Walton said. “If you find a way to win that, that’s impressive. There’s a lot of stuff we could’ve done better tonight, but you take the wins where you can get them and you keep trying to get better.”
The Warriors (3-0) most assuredly will get better. They’ll get more from Festus Ezeli, who endured his toughest night so far this season, scoring 1 point (on 1-of-6 free throw shooting) and grabbing five rebounds while blowing several defensive rotations in a forgettable 15 minutes They’ll get more from backup point guard Shaun Livingston, who had 2 points, three assists and two turnovers in 22 minutes.
The Warriors trailed 60-59 at the half because they were being outworked – which is not unusual on the second of two consecutive game nights. The Warriors won at Houston on Friday night and dragged into New Orleans in the wee hours Saturday.
“It was the second game in less than 24 hours,” Walton said. “There were some things that we needed to work on, but it was a one-point game at the half. I knew that (we had) 24 minutes, we’ve got the day off tomorrow, that our guys would come out in the second half and play better.”
They did, mostly behind Curry, whose 28-point third quarter – a personal career high for points in a quarter – wiped out the slim deficit and gave the Warriors a lead they never lost.
Though Curry shined brightest, there were others who acquitted themselves admirably. Draymond Green was solid, with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and some particularly stellar defense. Klay Thompson found his offensive stroke, with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
The Warriors, Curry aside, picked up very few style points and even fewer statistical triumphs. No matter, at least on this night. They have the luxury of not always needing to dominate an opponent to achieve victory.
Such is life without Curry. The man obscures a lot of things that might matter if he weren’t so exceptionally good at rising to the moment.