What we learned from Warriors’ Texas trip: Signs Curry busted his slump and Moody is here to stay
SAN ANTONIO — Navigating a minefield of injuries and a Steph Curry slump, the Warriors added two wins against the Rockets and Spurs on back-to-back nights to run their win streak to seven games.
They return home with a 39-13 record, second in the West and three games back of the Phoenix Suns with momentum to build on from every corner of this roster.
What can we learn from the Warriors’ Texas sweep? Let’s take a look.
Steph Curry’s slump busted?
The NBA’s most prolific three-point shooter is in a slump. Curry is shooting a career-worst 38% this season — above average by most standards, but sub-par for the sharpest shooter whose shooting percentage is 43% over his 13-year career.
This slump’s source is unclear. At timesCurry has looked fatigued, managing minor injuries to his hands. His teammates and coach Steve Kerr never expressed any concern, knowing he could go nuclear at any moment.
That moment came Monday night against the Rockets. Sparked by some trash talk by Kevin Porter Jr., Curry turned another poor shooting night into a 40-point frenzy with seven 3-pointers, most of which came in the fourth quarter.
Curry may still be in a slump — the greatest shooter of all-time has had a lot of poor shooting nights over the last two months. But between the lines, Curry looks to be lifting himself out of it. He sat out against the Spurs with a sore toe, but he’s shooting 47% (16-for-34) in his last three games against the Timberwolves, Nets and Rockets.
Moses Moody, a regular?
Rewarded with two starting nods, the Warriors’ 19-year-old rookie had his two best games in Texas. Perhaps his best play yet with Golden State happened Tuesday — fending off four Spurs players in a tumbling offensive rebound that led to Jordan Poole’s game-winning 3-pointer that sent a buzz throughout San Antonio.
It was a play that showed Moody’s competitive spirit. With the game on the line, the rookie had the floor awareness and nerves to make an aggressive play. It was a play that happened on the backdrop of Moody showing he can be a consistent shooting threat.
A frequent on the bus from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, Moody’s overall play in Texas might’ve secured him a regular rotation role.
His 43% 3-point shooting with G League Santa Cruz translated. Moody went 9-for-15 from three over the two games, including six 3-pointers against the Spurs on Tuesday. On a Warriors team that functions around high-volume 3-point shots — they shot 46 times from beyond the arc without Curry and Thompson on Tuesday — shooters are valuable.
“He’s an excellent shooter,” Kerr said. “He knows how to play. He’s done such a great job all season of competing day in and day out in practice, Santa Cruz, scrimmages, in the final two minutes when we put him a game already in hand. He’s consistent with his effort and his approach.”
Draymond Green’s health and Kevon Looney’s durability
An update on Green’s health didn’t provide much news. Out with a back injury, he will be re-evaluated in two more weeks and is making “positive” steps in his recovery. There is no timetable for his return.
With his defensive impact and playmaking, Green can turn this Warriors team from good to great. While he’s out, though, the Warriors have kept the pieces together defensively.
The glue that’s kept this defense together? The iron man who has played every Warriors game this season? Kevon Looney.
“Loon just does his work every single day and is the ultimate pro,” Kerr said. “He understands his body. He understands what it takes to maintain his health and his conditioning.”
The only true center healthy on the roster, Looney is eating up on the boards and holding down the paint. He has double-digit rebounds in nine of his last 14 games since Green landed on the injured list. Looney had 14 rebounds in Houston and 12 in San Antonio.
Jonathan Kuminga’s role
Draymond Green’s injury brought an opportunity for 19-year-old rookie Jonathan Kuminga, who was intended to start in his place. He lost that role quickly after making some rookie mistakes and some defensive mishaps.
Kuminga has some growing to do. Even if his highs contrast sharply with his lows, his performance in Tuesday night’s rousing win in San Antonio shows he’s growing.
Kuminga’s energy was low as he stumbled into a five-point first half. That he could gather steam and tighten up defensively in time for 14-point explosion in the fourth quarter was a positive sign.
“Tonight was a great lesson for him that even when you keep competing and playing hard, the game can turn,” Kerr said on Tuesday. “I’m really proud of him because the last couple games haven’t gone well for him. He stayed with it and was a huge factor in the second half.”
The rookie may not be starting games and he may not be finishing them once the Warriors’ veteran wings are healthy and active. But these growth spurts get him steps closer to holding the team’s trust.
Gary Payton II’s injury
The Warriors’ injuries are piling up with Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica and Iguodala missing multiple games recently.
The team held its breath when Payton II came up hobbled and departed for the locker room during the fourth quarter on Tuesday after banging his shin on a chair getting his career-high fifth steal of the game.
We’ll get an update on his health in the coming days. Kerr seemed to think the injury wasn’t too serious. But Golden State needs Payton II, one of its best perimeter defenders with some of the quickest hands in the league.