Certainly, coach Don Nelson, who is expected to miss five games while recovering from pneumonia, is loving this version of Stephen Curry.
When Nelson benched the rookie point guard in New York on Nov. 13, it seemed to light a fire under Curry, snapping him out of a passive style of play.
"I told him, 'You averaged 30 (points per game) at Davidson for a reason,'"" guard Anthony Morrow said, recalling a pep talk he gave Curry. —'It wasn't like you were just throwing up shots. You were a basketball player. You were taken No. 7 for a reason.'""
Curry has flipped the switch and turned into the offensive threat the Warriors envisioned, shedding the passive style of play. As a result, Golden State's offense is that much more potent. Considering how much hope they have placed in him, the Warriors are assuredly pleased to see him turn it on already.
Assistant coach Keith Smart will need Curry to keep it going, as Smart will be serving as head coach for the next three games. The team announced Friday that Nelson will rejoin the team after it returns from Tuesday's game at Denver. His week of prescribed rest is up after Monday, but completing a back-to-back in the Mile High City is too taxing. The Warriors entertain the Indiana Pacers on Monday.
After the New York embarrassment, Curry started seeing significant minutes (36.2 per game). He's responded by scoring double figures in each of the six games since, averaging
Before this stretch, Curry hadn't scored in double figures since the second game of the season. So what's been the difference?
"I'm willing to take shots," said Curry, who averaged 7.9 points over the first eight games. "I'm starting to eye the rim a little more."
After having some success with aggressive play during a 129-125 loss to the Bucks in on Nov. 14, Curry vowed to be the player the Warriors drafted out of Davidson. Even Wednesday at San Antonio, when he was 5-for-16, Curry created some good looks at the basket, though many of his shots rimmed out.
Curry needs to max out on offense, if for no other reason than to offset some of his shortcomings. He struggles on defense, and he's been a turnover machine of late. During the same six-game span, he's averaging four fouls and 3.5 turnovers. But the Warriors can live with that while he's developing in those areas, if he can help make their offense flourish.
"He's coming down and taking a shot without worrying if he should have taken the shot," Smart said. "He's being aggressive. If you err on the side of aggression, it's going to work itself out."
Tuesday was an example. Curry struggled early in Dallas. He missed five of his first eight shots and had four turnovers by halftime. But down the stretch, Curry was every bit the playmaker the Warriors wanted during a 111-103 win.
He took and knocked down clutch baskets. He forced the tempo to keep the pressure on the Mavericks defense. Then, with the game in the balance, he came through with a dagger.
With less than a minute and a half remaining and the Warriors up by two, Curry had the ball and a chance to put the Mavericks away. He dribbled toward the basket on the right side of the key and lofted a cloud-scraping shot that floated over the reach of Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. It banked off the glass and in.
"I work on that every day," Curry said Tuesday. "I'm pretty confident in that shot."
And though he's a rookie, the Warriors want him to take that shot, and just about any other. They took him No. 7 for a reason.
Notes: Ronny Turiaf (sprained left knee) and Devean George (sore left knee) practiced Friday and could be available tonight against their former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Smart said the team would see how their knees respond before ruling them ready. ... Despite possibly having 11 players available, the Warriors still qualify for the roster exemption they were granted to sign center Chris Hunter from the NBA Development League. The league requires at least four players who have missed the last three games and aren't expected back for at least two weeks. Brandan Wright (shoulder), Kelenna Azubuike (knee), Speedy Claxton (knee) and Raja Bell (wrist) all fit those parameters. Still, the petition for an extra roster spot must be renewed every two weeks.
Lakers, 7:30 p.m.