Stephen Curry scores 24, but his return isn’t enough to lift the Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO — Heading into Tuesday night’s game, the Golden State Warriors were confident that returning Stephen Curry would be the piece they needed to build on the momentum they created earlier at home without him.

They finally got their MVP back. The starting lineup – the league’s best five-man unit – was full for the first time since December 3. They were facing an undermanned Phoenix Suns team.

Instead, the Warriors looked like a similar version of the team they were when Curry went down with a partially dislocated left shoulder, falling to the Suns 125-113.

I think with Steve W [Andrew Wiggins] “Going back, we may have relaxed a little more than we should have,” said Klay Thompson. “We thought they’d show up, we’d get the dubbing.”

But Carrie Wiggins all has dust to dust off, and it was obvious.

Curry, who missed 11 games over four weeks after being injured on Dec. 14, wore a shooting sleeve on his left arm that ran from his shoulder to his wrist. He said he got through the game physically well and wasn’t thinking about his shoulder during the game – something that was crucial for him to be able to play.

On Friday, Curry said he didn’t think his conditioning took much of a hit during his layoff, and while he played 31 minutes Tuesday night, he admitted that playing under minute restrictions affected his ability to find his rhythm.

Knowing he would only play for certain periods, there was a level of pressure to get his form back in a limited amount of time, which tried to balance play within the flow of the game.

“You’re hit-or-miss with how much rust you’re going to get and closing in you can get up to game speed,” Curry said. “In the first quarter, I felt good just being out there, running with our buddies. … I felt like I was getting stronger as the game went on … In the fourth quarter, the game turned more intense. I was playing desperately trying to come back and make a few plays. I felt like myself again.” .

Curry scored 16 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. He shot 8-of-22 from the ground, including 5-of-15 from 3, in 31 minutes overall.

Wiggins, playing in his second game back from an adductor strain and subsequent injury, finished with 10 points but did so on 5-of-16 shooting and lacked the aggressiveness and rhythm he had before his absence.

Thompson started the night by scoring 14 of his 29 points in the first quarter, but then cooled off.

In his first game coming off the bench since December 3, Jordan Paul scored 27 points.

With just over four minutes left in the game, Curry hit three consecutive three-pointers to breathe life back into the team. Three minutes later, Poole, Stop, Poole 3 and Another stop pulled the Warriors within six minutes after being as short as 27.

After a timeout, Curry was called for a foul, sending Damion Lee over the line and giving the Suns a three-possession lead. These free throws ended up being a dagger.

“I hope the fourth quarter is the team I know, love and appreciate,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But we have to show up in the first quarter, not the fourth.”

Curry said the fourth quarter represents the “level of focus, tenacity, toughness and high IQ basketball” that the Warriors retain and what they know is necessary to win.

But the first three quarters saw the Warriors’ offense disintegrate and their defense virtually non-existent. Phoenix finished the first quarter 10-0 and by halftime had a 14-point lead. The Warriors are down by as much as 27 points against a Suns team without Devin Booker, Chris Paul, DeAndre Ayton, Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne.

“I have to do a better job of giving [the Warriors] “The slap in the face that Phoenix gave us,” Kerr said. “One team has an emotional edge like Phoenix did, and they set the tone right away. That’s all it takes.”

Both Kerr and Thompson said this game should serve as a reminder to the Warriors that there are no easy games in the NBA, no matter how healthy their roster is or how exhausted their opponents are.

“You need a wake-up call,” Kerr said. “You have to understand the level of commitment to each other, to the game that it takes to win the title.”

This isn’t just a reminder for the younger Warriors and Two-Way players, whom Kerr noted didn’t play against Phoenix, but for the veterans who won multiple championships.

But, having just played their 41st game of the season – the official halfway mark – there have been other reminders of this throughout the season. There were other gamers after whom they shared a similar feeling: that they understood they weren’t meeting their standards.

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Carey said. “Ultimately, you have to do it or time will run out… We’ve got 41 games to find out. Otherwise, we won’t.”

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