Steph Curry unleashes his angry side, and the Warriors love it: ‘You saw the flurry coming’

Steph Curry unleashes his angry side, and the Warriors love it: ‘You saw the flurry coming’

LOS ANGELES — The mouthguard came out. Angry Steph had arrived.

First, he directed his ire toward Gediminas Petraitis, the official who kept his whistle quiet while Curry tumbled to the hardwood beneath the basket after drawing contact from the lone Clipper defender facing a two-on-one fastbreak. He flailed his arms, and Petraitis made another motion with his: a technical foul.

That just about sealed the Clippers’ fate.

An irate Curry drained three 3-pointers in 75 seconds — a fourth was waived off by an offensive foul away from the play — while the Warriors padded a nine-point lead by another 14 over the ensuing minutes.

“You saw the flurry coming,” said Draymond Green, a master of the technical — he drew his own earlier in the third quarter, after all — who gave Curry’s tirade an approving grade. “That was great. And deserved. You saw the play?”

Curry and Otto Porter Jr. were in business after Juan Toscano-Anderson intercepted a bad pass from Reggie Jackson, one of 19 Warriors steals. Leading the fastbreak, Porter dumped the ball off to Curry as Terrance Mann backpedaled into the paint. As Curry elevated, so did his defender. Curry ricocheted off Mann’s body and on to the floor while the ball trickled out of bounds.

No transition bucket. No foul.

It was the culmination of a chippy game, a slog of a matinee in which the Warriors didn’t feel the calls were going their way. Green and Toscano-Anderson had already been teed up earlier in the game.

Toscano-Anderson had to restrain Curry from Petraitis.

From the bench, coach Steve Kerr was angry enough that he said afterward he was surprised he didn’t get teed up himself.

“He clearly got fouled,” Kerr said. “When he knows he got fouled, especially on a play like that in transition where it’s right out in the open and easy to see and he doesn’t get the call, every once in a while he’s going to snap.”

Added Jordan Poole: “I thought it was reasonable. He got fouled. They were missing a lot of calls. He already doesn’t get the calls that he deserves. That’s what he felt he needed to do, and it worked.”

He’d seen the mouthpiece maneuver on television, but the third-year guard had never witnessed Curry so angry first hand, he said.

At that point, Curry said, a voice appeared in his head, a skill he has honed — like his shot or his conditioning — that allowed him to explode in a dazzling display of 3-pointers rather than a fit of rage.

All right, let’s play basketball.

“Once the spark is lit and I let the emotions fly, however long that lasts, as soon as there’s an intentional moment or some voice in your head … I love to control that moment,” Curry said. “Because if you don’t, it spirals into you doing something other than what you’re supposed to be doing out there and you can overdo it. Let it out and play basketball.”

Around that time, Green looked to Poole and made a prediction that almost immediately began to come true.

“I was telling Jordan Poole over there, he about to put this one up,” Green recalled. “And he started putting them up.”

Said Kerr: “When he knows he’s right, the competitor in him often comes out and he’ll kind of lose his mind a little bit. But it often spurs him as it did in this instance. … Whatever it takes, I guess.”

Revenge was complete when the third of Curry’s triples fell through the net, the final dagger in Golden State’s run that turned a 79-70 lead into a 95-77 advantage. Curry exuberantly raised his right hand and crossed it with his left, imitating the gesture of his officiating nemesis only a few minutes prior.

As for the message behind the motion, “You can decide,” Curry said with a wry smile. “Open for interpretation.”

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