Warriors’ Big Three meets moment with vintage performance vs. Lakers

Contrary to Richard Jefferson’s whiff at a Kendrick Lamar impersonation earlier Tuesday, saying “Right now, there is no Big Three – there’s a Big Me, and that is Steph Curry,” the Warriors’ Hall of Fame trio of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green met the moment at Crypto.com Arena in a 134-120 win against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The win put the 10th-seeded Warriors only a half-game behind the Lakers in the Western Conference standings to begin the final week of the NBA’s regular season.

Curry efficiently lit the Lakers up. He scored 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting and was a perfect 6 of 6 on 3-pointers. Tuesday was the second time in Curry’s career he attempted six or more threes without a miss in a game, and the first time he did so since his rookie year when he made all six tries from long distance against the Denver Nuggets. Curry also provided eight assists, seven rebounds, two blocks, one steal and just a single turnover.

But this time he received plenty of help from his Warriors teammates as well. Six Warriors scored in double figures, and six made multiple 3-pointers. Thompson and Green were part of both groups.

Curry’s plus-13 led all Warriors starters. Thompson and Green were right behind at plus-11 apiece, and it was Thompson who led all Golden State scorers.

On the same court Thompson felt ultimate disappointment in his playoff performance last season, he dropped 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and drained half of his 10 3-point attempts. Thompson now has scored 59 points over his last two games, both Warriors wins, while shooting 56.4 percent (22 of 39) from the field and 47.8 percent (11 of 23) beyond the arc.

Shooting always comes first for Thompson, but it was his third and final assist of the night that showcased what a good headspace he’s in right now. Thompson captured a steal from Lakers guard Gabe Vincent, dribbled down the floor and, instead of looking for his own shot, Klay found an open Brandin Podziemski for a three to increase the Warriors’ lead to 10 points.

“I think Klay has been in a great place,” Steve Kerr said to reporters in LA. “The last couple of months he wasn’t thrilled about coming off the bench initially but handled it beautifully, and whether he’s started or come off the bench now he’s been just fantastic.”

Combining for 11 threes isn’t something new for Curry and Thompson. The duo has made shooting from deep their own personal layup lines for more than a decade now. Green joining them is an added bonus the Warriors always warmly welcome.

The Lakers, like everybody else in the league, sagged off Green and dared him to shoot behind the 3-point line. Draymond made them pay all five times he let it fly in the first half, before missing his two attempts in the second half. Hesitation wasn’t an option. Catch, bend and shoot. That was the successful recipe Green used to his advantage.

His five 3-pointers were a season high, tied his most ever for a half in his career and tied his second-most ever for an entire game – a mark he set back in 2014. Green’s 15 points all came from his five threes. He also had 10 assists, giving him his ninth double-double of the 2023-24 NBA season. He’s now at 39.5 percent as a 3-point shooter, crediting Warriors director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini, as well as others he works closely with during the season and before, to get his mind and body more in sync.

“Over the years, my shot took a dive and it was in large part that I couldn’t get in and out of my hips. My hips was messed up,” Green said. “So it’s been a process of getting my movement patterns right. … Just doing a bunch of different things to get my body moving the right way, get my shot all in one motion. I was just trying to create power because I couldn’t get the power from my hips. It’s been a whole process.

“And I think the most important part has been the mental work, because once you lose confidence in something in this league it’s impossible to hoop. I had to gain my confidence back, which was the biggest piece of it all in my opinion.”

The Warriors made 64.3 percent of their threes, setting a new NBA record. They’re the first team in league history to make 25 or more threes in a game at 60 percent or better. Even there, everything still starts with Curry, Thompson and Green. The three combined to score 65 points on 70.4-percent shooting and were 16 of 23 from deep, a 69.6-percent clip.

Team-wide confidence has to match Green’s mindset when provoked to unload for three. Wherever the Warriors wind up, Curry likes Golden State’s odds, knowing he can look to his left, look to his right and count on the Old Faithful of Thompson and Green by his side.

“I still don’t know the math of how it all plays out, and I don’t really care,” Curry said. “Really, it just matters for us to win these next three and see where we end up. But there’s a big difference to have two cracks at it, for sure.

“We’ll have confidence no matter where we’re at.”

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