Curry’s 47 lifts Warriors as bench continues to lag

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SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry had never been happier about a win in the 11th game of the regular season than he was about the Golden State Warriors116-113 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

Coming off a five-game losing streak, the Warriors considered this to be as close to a must-win game as possible this early in the season.

Their win largely came down to the latest Curry takeover, in addition to some timely 3-pointers by Andrew Wiggins down the stretch.

Curry finished the night with a game-high — and season-high — 47 points on 17-of-24 shooting, including 7-of-12 from 3, eight rebounds and eight assists. He scored 17 of his points in the fourth quarter. Curry is the first player to record such a stat line and have no turnovers since turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“It was very [2022] Game 4 of the NBA Finals to me. He just wasn’t going to allow us to lose,” Draymond Green said. “Take that with a grain of salt because I’m not saying this game was as important. But you know when to get out of the way. It was one of those times where he was taking over.”

Curry’s dominance has been desperately needed by Golden State through the early portion of the season as it navigates defensive struggles and an unproductive bench. But Curry insists the weight he is carrying for his team is not a burden.

“We have to understand that [the young players] are all going to get an opportunity to perform, and there are going to be some struggles — some real high highs, and some real low lows,” Curry said. “That’s the story of this team. As vets, you understand every year is a little different and you are ready for that challenge. For these young guys to try to find themselves in this league and also a specific role, it’s challenging.”

Curry has scored at least 30 points in eight of the 10 games he’s played, becoming the third player in franchise history to do so alongside Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Berry.

So far, Curry has made 53 3-pointers this season, the second most through a player’s first 10 games of a season — trailing only his record of 59 from the 2018-19 season.

“Steph was just breathtaking,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s obviously one of the greatest players of all time, and he plays so well on so many nights. But this even seemed like something special for him.”

Curry played 38 minutes against Sacramento, as did Klay Thompson. Green added 36 minutes, and Andrew Wiggins played a game-high 40. Kerr said because those four players sat out against the New Orleans Pelicans two nights ago, and the team desperately needed the win, he felt comfortable “chasing this one with heavy minutes” for the starters.

“It was obviously necessary,” Kerr said. “But it’s not sustainable. So we know we can’t do this for a long time.”

The Warriors have needed to rely on their starters in almost every game this season, facing a major drop-off in production during their bench minutes.

Following their winless road trip, Kerr vowed to switch up his rotation to try and find a spark. He opted to move two-way player Anthony Lamb higher up into the rotation, as well as 2021 No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga, who was a DNP in three of the Warriors’ past seven games.

Despite the changes to the rotation, Golden State’s bench still struggled, as it was outscored 45-15 by Sacramento. Jordan Poole continued his slow start to the season, scoring just two points and netting a minus-11 net rating.

Coming out of halftime, Kerr moved Poole into the starting lineup over Kevon Looney to try to get Poole going, but it didn’t work. Kerr also never returned to Kuminga in the second half and played Moses Moody for just nine minutes all night.

“We were not right in that first half after the good start. We lost our juice,” Kerr said. “So the second half, it was more just figure it out … we did enough to get it done, but at that point, we were just flying by the seat of our pants.”

Notable omissions from the rotation were lone veteran reserve JaMychal Green and 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman, who is back after missing 18 months with a meniscus injury and multiple setbacks.

Kerr said there will be opportunities for JaMychal Green and Wiseman to work their way back into the rotation at some point, but for now, Kerr plans to play smaller lineups that feature Draymond Green and Kuminga as the backup centers for Looney.

“It’s imperative that [Wiseman] uses this time to improve,” Draymond Green said. “If you’re not in the lineup, you should be crushing yourself every single day. One thing for sure: Steve is going to call your number … you have to make sure you’re ready.”

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