A Steph Curry-led Golden State Warriors rallied late Friday night to erase a 22-point deficit on their way to upset the Los Angeles Clippers, splitting the two-game series in a fitting tribute to statistician Fred Kast, who retires after 58 years with the Dubs.
The haters will say it’s Photoshop, but the Golden State Warriors are starting to look like the real deal.
With 3:15 left in the third quarter Friday night at the Chase Center in downtown San Francisco, the Warriors found themselves behind 22 points after back-to-back free throws from Kawhi Leonard and staring down the jaws of another defeat.
Two nights prior, the Dubs had blown a late-lead of their own en route to a 108-101 loss at home to the Clippers.
There would have been no protests had the Warriors lost two in a row to a team that top analysts have tipped to win the NBA title this season. However, 2x MVP Steph Curry would not relent, inspiring his team with 38 points and 11 assists on his way to an impressive if not impossible comeback against some of the league’s premier talent.
Curry’s on-court postgame ESPN interview was interrupted by teammate Draymond Green with a sharpie and and a notion for Steph to autograph the game ball to honor the retirement of Fred Kast, the team's statistician of 58 years. Having worked just under 3,000 games for the Warriors, the level of respect Kast has earned from players and executives throughout the organization speaks to the deep bonds the franchise works so hard to establish from top to bottom.
This season has been somewhat tumultuous for Warriors faithful, as realistic expectations have been elusive and nailing them down has been complicated. While key losses to Klay Thompson and Marquese Chriss and more than a handful of poor shooting performances have added uncertainty, the team has continued to improve at a pace that makes it hard to indicate how high their ceiling truly is.
Head coach Steve Kerr has been consistent in his message that the Warriors will continue to improve, but is the rate at which they have done so up to this point sustainable across 72 games?
“The most important thing for this team is to establish that we are going to compete for 48 minutes," Kerr told reporters in his postgame Zoom conference. "The team understands what they have to do, which is bring energy and execution every night, and they did that tonight."
“This is who our team’s gonna be — We’re fighting every game, all 48.” pic.twitter.com/N8JabiZHEV— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 9, 2021
There has been a huge divergence from concern to hope since the season opener, where the obscurity from crucial injuries loomed over a 26-point thumping, offering a potential future for this season’s outcome that appeared truly bleak. Yet, a mere 17 days later, the heavily-favored Los Angeles Clippers could not find any answers for the Warriors’ flurries and defensive stymies.
It is without question too early in the season to say anything definitive about where this year’s squad will finish, and any calls for Steph to be the 2021 MVP are especially premature with just nine games played this campaign. But the Warriors look to be establishing something significant, and the foundation the franchise has built upon is something the team can look to as a source of inspiration as they continue their climb back to the pinnacle of the sport.
Top Image: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images