It took Stephen Curry more than two quarters to emerge from a slumber of turnovers, rhythm-less jumpers and inane fouls, the type of deep sleep that leads to early 20-point deficits, and LeBron James was waiting for him.
Lifeless throughout a first half on Wednesday that saw him score just two points while committing three fouls and three turnovers, Curry came alive a bit in the third quarter, hitting three three-pointers as Golden State’s sole spark on a flat night.
With the play whistled dead after a foul, Curry collected the basketball and rose for a right-handed dunk, a hopeful show of force that might conjure up something resembling momentum with the Warriors trailing by 19 points.
After attempting to toss a casual pass over James on the perimeter, Curry bumped James as the two players chased after the ball near midcourt.
James briefly slipped, but he kept his dribble alive and found a streaking Kyrie Irving, who returned the ball to James over the top of a helpless Curry for a sensational alley-oop.
James, after being bottled up to one degree or another in seven straight losses to Golden State, let loose on Curry twice in a few minutes.
Cleveland’s point guard scored 16 of his 30 points in the first period, shaking free from Curry on a simple back cut and losing him completely with a series of crossovers at the top of the key.
Kerr wasn’t done, calling out Curry specifically for his defensive mistake on Irving’s cut before adding that his point guard “wasn’t his usual self” and he “just didn’t play well.” Among the many obvious contrasts between Curry and James their positions, their physiques, their styles of play is how much wider the margin of error is for Curry thanks to the Warriors’ depth and talent.
Curry might clearly have more help than James Cleveland’s bench didn’t score a single point in the first three quarters but he’s reached the point in this series where it’s time for him to do his part.