Stephen Curry on Warriors: “There’s been no panic in our locker room or around our team”

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From the moment Zaza Pachulia fell back into Kevin Durant‘s knee, sidelining the Warriors’ leading scorer until around the start of the playoffs, the Warriors have gone 2-5. In those games, the Warriors have had the third-worst offense in the NBA, and arguably the greatest shooter the game has ever seen in Stephen Curry has shot 27.7 percent from three and 41.8 percent overall.

All of that has allowed the Spurs catch up and tie the Warriors for the best record in the NBA. It has Warriors fans nervous — but not the Warriors.

“There’s been no panic in our locker room or around our team,” Stephen Curry told NBCSports.com Monday when asked about the recent losing streak. “We know who we are, we know what we’re capable of. The ultimate goal is winning a championship and you’re not going to do that in game 65 or 67 or what not, so it’s not to get wrapped up in what we think is a normal NBA experience.”

 

The Warriors have not been a normal team in the NBA’s regular season the past two seasons. They won 65 games and an NBA title two years ago, 73 games and returned to the Finals last year. They had gone 146 games without losing consecutive games. Curry said the Warriors see this recent slide as simply reality catching up with the team — a key injury and a brutal stretch of the schedule had them looking vulnerable.

He added getting the No. 1 seed remains a goal, and that the Warriors can do it while still getting healthy and rested for the postseason.

“We want to get that done, obviously, we want to lock up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. That’s a big deal,” Curry said. “I think we can do both (lock up the home court and get healthy). We have 15 or 16 games left in the season (16), that’s a lot of time to control your own destiny with taking care of the rest of our home games, and finish out the season strong. There’s plenty of time to get that done and get rested to make sure we’re energized for the playoffs.”

Curry is known for that energy on the court, and in his workouts off it. Curry, who endorses Degree deodorant, partnered with that company to produce 360-degree videos showing what it’s like to be with him on the court during one of his workouts.

“Degree, they provide me the protection I need to perform my best on the floor. Part of that is developing a new 360-degree video that puts you on the court with me, in kind a never before seen perspective and look at my game, and some of the moves I try when I’m out there on the court,” Curry said.

For the Warriors, the schedule does soften up. They have 11 of their final 16 games at home, starting with the Sixers on Tuesday night. Only five of their final 16 games are against teams with records over .500 (one of those is against the Spurs in San Antonio).

Contrast with the recent stretch, when the Warriors played eight games in 13 days, which included two cross-country flights, all in the name of getting them on national broadcasts more. It left the team with clearly tired legs, all while trying to adapt to playing without Durant. Curry didn’t want to make excuses, but there was a reason Steve Kerr decided to rest his four best players against the Spurs Saturday night.

“As players you try not to let that defeat you, you don’t think about it in the moment, you just try to go out and win no matter what the schedule says or now many miles you fly, or how many time zones you cross over. And honestly every team has tough stretches throughout the season schedule-wise,” Curry said. “Obviously, with KD’s injury on top of that it was a lot going on, but we got through it, we’re home for three games this week, and we have the opportunity to kind of get back on track. We have to take advantage of that obviously.”

Expect them to. And expect the race for the No. 1 seed in the West and the NBA to be tight and interesting all the way down to the final days of the season.

 

Kobe Bryant on race for Podoloff Trophy: “We might see our first co-MVPs this year”

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The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.

It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.

Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.

“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.

That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.

Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.

Watch Rockets C Nene lead the break, eurostep past Enes Kanter (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.

On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.

The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.

Kobe Bryant says he didn’t even have NBA League Pass until a month ago (VIDEO)

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What has retired all-time NBA great Kobe Bryant been doing with his time? A little of this, a little of that. Apparently that doesn’t include watching non-national NBA games.

Speaking with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Michael Smith on SC6, Bryant revealed that he went to go watch a little NBA while he was getting a workout in at his house and realized he didn’t have the NBA package hooked up on his cable.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know if I totally buy this. On one hand, Kobe is a busy guy and he did spend two decades living and breathing the NBA night in and night out. I would expect that after all that time he might want some kind of relief.

Then again, to think that Kobe doesn’t have multiple assistants that would have handled that sort of thing already is sort of silly. The only benefit here is Kobe trying to sell that he’s just relaxing and not paying attention to the league too much, which is hilarious.

Kobe, we all know who you are by now. You’re watching the league, man. You’re Kobe. We get it. You didn’t suddenly turn into The Dude.

Let’s just hope Kobe’s League Pass works right off the bat. We all know how much of a hassle it can be.

Damian Lillard dismisses playoff expectations as pressure, says it insults regular people

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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a disappointing season thus far. The team is just 34-38 before their game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and they’re battling it out for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with the Denver Nuggets.

This comes as after expectations rose greatly following the 2015-16 campaign which saw the Blazers finish 44-38, good enough for the No. 5 spot in the West.

Portland has looked better after trading Mason Plumlee to Denver in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, but it might be too little too late. Meanwhile, team leader Damian Lillard isn’t bowing to the idea that last season’s good fortune raised the bar so much that it put undue pressure on his team.

Speaking with Sporting News, Lillard said he thinks the idea is really more about pressure vs. challenges.

Via SN:

Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.

Look at the Wizards, they were kind of on the same wave as us. Didn’t even make the playoffs while we did. Now this year they’re the second-best team in the East. The adversity made them better. It can make us better, too. What I come from and my background made me who I am. As comfortable as I am with the good times, I’m also comfortable in adversity. Yeah, I might feel some type of way when somebody comes for me or says my name. But when it’s all said and done, it ain’t gonna rock me.

This is interesting to hear an NBA player say out loud. One, because I’m not sure I entirely believe it. You can have pressure without it having to be something that threatens your overall wellbeing.

Then again, maybe we’re arguing linguistics here. There’s definitely a different emotion from, say, trying to make sure you make rent and aren’t evicted to the street vs. trying to make the NBA playoffs. If one emotion is being defined as pressure, it makes sense to call the other a challenge.

It’s also interesting to hear an NBA player speak in those kinds of terms. There are a few guys around the league who seem to be relatively grounded and give out quotes like this from time-to-time. The absurdity of the NBA — playing games, making millions, and having folks worship you — would easily bend reality for most of us.

In any case, the challenge of making the playoffs for Portland is not going to be an easy one to overcome. Going into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the Trail Blazers are a game behind Denver for the final spot.

Portland will face Denver on Tuesday, March 28 in perhaps their most important game of the season.