The Warriors close 5-0 with Stephen Curry’s comeback looming

The Warriors close 5-0 with Stephen Curry's comeback looming

Kendra AndrewsESPN3 minutes to read

SAN FRANCISCO — When Stephen Curry suffered an injury to his lower left leg in early February, it became the goal of the Golden State Warriors to stay afloat. After surviving 11 games without him in November, they felt they could do it again.

But now, as they prepare for Curry’s imminent return – perhaps this Sunday afternoon – the Warriors have done more than just stay afloat. Golden State wrapped up a 5-0 run with a 108-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night, some momentum and a whole lot of confidence.

“It was exciting to see our team, I think, turn a corner,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

The Warriors have gone 7-3 since Curry fell on Feb. 4. 500 (34-30) for the first time this season, and sit at the fifth seed in the Western Conference, one game behind. Phoenix Suns and one game over the Dallas Mavericks.

“The guys have figured out their roles and I think we’re in good shape,” said Klay Thompson. “We’re having fun, above all else. … You realize how important all these games are from now on. We want to do everything we can to be on our court, especially in the first round. So, it’s a big challenge and it’s there for us to take it.”

In each of their past four games, the Warriors have overcome double-digit deficits—the first time they’ve won four straight games after falling behind by at least 10 in each one over the past 25 seasons.

Two of those four games—against the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers—were won in the third quarter, something that has almost become a signature of the Warriors over the years.

After trailing the Pelicans by 17 points in the first quarter on Friday, the Warriors found a rhythm in the second, leading New Orleans by 11 points. The Six Warriors finished in double-digit scoring, led by Thompson with 27 points on 10-of-17.

But even with such great scoring explosions, the team insists it all starts on defense. They said it was their play at that end of the field that allowed them to find their rhythm. Kerr said it was the best consistent defense the Warriors had played all year.

“I feel there’s grit that comes with defending that allows you to rock [slow starts] “Pause and keep playing,” Kerr said after the Warriors’ victory over the Clippers on Thursday. It’s hard to do when you’re just exchanging buckets. For most of the season our defense has been very weak. I think grit goes hand in hand with defense and our defense has been significantly better.”

Between Thursday and Friday, the Warriors allowed fewer than 100 points in consecutive games after doing so only once all season. The 91 points the Clippers scored against Golden State was a season-low, snapping a 48-game winning streak from opponents who scored at least 100 points.

The biggest difference between their defense now and earlier in the season is the Warriors’ ability to execute their game plan – which has been key in limiting Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook and Brandon Ingram.

Now the challenge is going to be taking this on the road, as the Warriors have suffered a notable decline all season. Golden State has the third worst defense in the league and allows the second most points (123.5) when away from Chase Center. At home, the Warriors have the third-best defense and allow 111.6 points (14-less).

“I’m very confident,” Thompson said of going on the road. “I know we’ve been trusting each other more, we’ve been talking, and our communication has been great. We’ve got some great defenders. So I’m confident we’ll make the same effort down the road.”

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