Stephen Curry’s Return Boosts Warriors to Win Over Pelicans
Stephen Curry waited all of 11 seconds before he launched his first 3-pointer of the playoffs. It found its way home.
A few minutes later, with the defence giving him some room, he launched from 32 feet, and again connected.
“He was Steph,” Coach Steve Kerr said at his postgame news conference. “He doesn’t take long to warm up, that’s for sure.”
After an inconsistent regular season, the Golden State Warriors started 5-1 in these N.B.A. playoffs, erasing any doubts about their worthiness as a legitimate title contender. Now, as they appear to be hitting their stride, the defending champions were bolstered by the return of Curry, who came off the bench for his first action following a 38-day absence thanks to a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
It was like he never left as he led his team to a 121-116 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series.
The two-time winner of the league’s Most Valuable Player Award checked in with 4 minutes 20 seconds left in the first quarter, and the Warriors trailing by 18-11. But by the end of the first half, thanks to Curry’s sharpshooting and a last-second 3-pointer by Klay Thompson, Golden State had a 58-55 lead. It was more of the same in the second half.
When all was said and done, Curry had shot 8 for 15 from the field, 5 for 10 from 3-point range, and he had scored 28 points, which trailed only Kevin Durant’s 29 for the game-high. The Warriors needed every bit of it, as the team outscored the Pelicans by 26 points in Curry’s 27 minutes on the floor and were outscored by 11 in the 21 minutes he was on the bench.
“We knew we wanted to play him 25 minutes or so, not so much based on his knee but based on his conditioning,” Kerr said after the game, explaining that Curry had essentially received the minutes the team would previously have given to Quinn Cook.
Asked by TNT’s David Aldridge after the game if he was interested in a sixth-man role for the Warriors after his successful stint off the bench, Curry declined.
“Not at all,” he said with a laugh. “I’ll be back where I should be soon.”
Curry, who turned 30 in March, averaged 26.4 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds a game this season, while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3-point range. His career mark of 43.6 percent from 3-point range is the best in N.B.A. history among players with 2,000 or more career attempts.
The Warriors are hoping their patience in Curry’s recovery this time will lead to different results.