Warriors guard Stephen Curry stole the show last night in Golden State’s thrilling 132-125 Game 4 overtime win against the Portland Trail Blazers, dropping 40 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists off the bench in 37 minutes of play.
Curry, who has been dealing with a Grade 1 MCL sprain this postseason, was initially supposed to only log 25 minutes of action according to head coach Steve Kerr, and most of those minutes were to come with Andre Iguodala on the court to minimize Curry’s ball-handling duties as they didn’t want to tax him too much in his first game back.
Well during the second quarter of Monday night’s slugfest, Warriors guard Shaun Livingston grew incensed at referee Scott Foster after a no-call, and he spewed some nasty verbiage that warranted an ejection, effectively eliminating the minutes cap that had been placed on Curry prior to the contest.
How did Curry respond to the increased workload bestowed upon him thanks to Livingston’s discharge from the game? By going bonkers and solidifying his status as the game’s best player and the league’s MVP.
Curry dropped 17 of his 40 points in the overtime session, setting an NBA record for most points scored in an extra five-minute frame.
Curry’s heroics will garner all the praise and rightfully so, but it would be an injustice to Klay Thompson to gloss over the work he put in on the defensive end against Trail Blazers terror Damian Lillard on Monday.
Lillard erupted for 40 points and 10 assists in Game 3 over the weekend, and when asked about Lillard’s masterful performance, Thompson acknowledged that his subpar defense is what enabled Lillard to blitz the Warriors in that lopsided loss. Thompson promised to make adjustments in Game 4, and that’s exactly what he did as he held Lillard to 9-30 shooting.
Lillard did connect on some huge baskets down the stretch, but Thompson successfully suffocating the scoring savage throughout most of the night, which help to steer things in a favorable direction for the Dubs.
Thompson clouded Lillard’s vision with his length, didn’t bite on fakes and stayed affixed to Dame whenever he attempted to shed him with some nifty dribble moves, doing exactly what you’re supposed to do when going head-to-head with a primer scorer: make everything tough.
Thompson contested mostly every shot, and his teammates did an excellent job of crowing Lillard out of the pick and roll, forcing him to dump it off to other teammates who aren’t used to being tasked with initiating the offense.
Golden State took Lillard out of his comfort zone, not allowing him to get to his spots as easily as he did in Game 3. Yes, Dame did end the game with 36 points, but on 30 shots. Klay Thompson did his job brilliantly, and the Warriors now nurse a 3-1 series lead thanks to Thompson’s defense and Curry’s virtuosic night.