OAKLAND — Before the Golden State Warriors slumped to a 111-100 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, Stephen Curry took a quick break from his pregame shooting routine. Standing in front of the Warriors’ bench, Curry one-hopped a pass to his dad, Dell, who was leaning up against the scorer’s table at center court.
Just like last February when the elder Curry banked in a 3-pointer, the ex-NBA marksman and Hornets broadcaster hoisted another long-range effort. This one too went off the glass but rimmed out.
His son, soaking up the scene, doubled over in laughter and amazement as Dell almost did it again.
Amid his nearly-month long layoff, Curry has never lost his perspective, his sense of humor or his boundless joy.
“He’s just Steph,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “When he’s around, everybody feels better. I mean, he’s just a great teammate and a great person.”
“He’s a settling influence,” Kerr continued. “It’s good to have him in the building but it’s more fun to have him on the floor.”
For much of the outing against the Hornets, his teammates didn’t share that zeal. At times on Friday night, as has happened on occasion this month, the Warriors looked bored. They played flat.
The offense, held to 100 points or fewer for the third time in four games, badly needed Curry’s enthusiasm and his gravity.
When the two-time MVP returns against the Memphis Grizzlies, Kerr will have him on a yet-to-be-determined minutes restriction. The coach knows there’s no limiting what Curry does with that time on the floor.
“Anything’s possible,” Kerr said. “Who knows? With Steph nothing would shock me. He might make 10 shots in a row. He might. He might miss 10 in a row to start with and then make eight.”
Kerr recalled the time Curry returned from a four-game absence in the 2016 Western Conference Semifinals to drop 40 points — including 17 in overtime — on the Portland Trail Blazers.
“He came back and he was like 0-for-11 to start the game,” Kerr said. “Then he made his 12th shot and he shimmied back down the court. It was one of my favorite Steph moments. The ultimate display of confidence. 1-for-12 — he’s shimmying. It’s awesome.”
Against the Hornets, Draymond delivered a typically-active performance, cluttering the box score with eight points, 11 rebounds, 16 assists and three blocks, but as a group, the Warriors never hit that extra gear.
Kevin Durant poured in 27 points but he needed 19 field-goal attempts to get there.
“Our energy wasn’t really on point like it should have been,” Durant conceded. “I think it was okay [but] we couldn’t take it up to another level and they made shoots as well.”
Klay Thompson epitomized the night, starting with a burst before fading into a malaise. Thompson scored 13 points in the first six minutes before tallying just 11 in his final half an hour on the floor.
All the Warriors are thrilled about impending return of the Baby-Faced Assassin.
“Anytime Steph Curry’s in the building, he’s a threat,” his backup Shaun Livingston said after shoot around. “So, just to have that option, to have that weapon — it’s like having a nuclear missile. Like for real.”
Durant summed up the moment best, speaking to Curry the offensive force and Golden State tone-setter.
“I’m very excited, man,” Durant said. “He’s our leader. He’s our point guard. He kind of runs the show out there, so we’ve definitely been missing him. We have so many quick scoring spurts because of his movement, his 3-point shooting, his ball handling [and] his vision. So, we’ll definitely be another team, a different team, when he comes back. We’re excited about having him healthy again. I’m excited he gets to play the game he loves again. I could tell he was anxious.”