Warriors lose Steph Curry, hold Mavericks for needed home win

SAN FRANCISCO — Steph Curry, defending a McKinley Wright IV practice late in the third quarter on Saturday, took a knee to the outside of his left leg, bending it inward and sending it jumping toward the stands in pain.

The Mavericks called time out. Curry limped to the bench. It initially looked like he convinced Rick Celebrini, the Warriors’ top medical decision maker, that it was okay to stay in the game. But after further consultation, Celebrini walked a hobbled Curry through the tunnel and out of the arena. X-rays were negative, but he was sent for an MRI.

The results of those tests will determine how much time Curry misses. If it’s a substantial amount, an already shaky season will hit its biggest hurdle. If Curry avoided anything serious, a path to Golden State’s larger goal remains intact.

“Any time a guy goes for an MRI, there’s a level of concern,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Curry left with the Warriors until 20. Without him, they stumbled against a Mavericks team without Luka Dončić or Christian Wood. Dallas cut the lead to five. Jordan Poole’s offensive struggles continued. Donte DiVincenzo was used as a defensive back-up for Poole late on. Kevon Looney had a huge offensive rebound in critical time. The Warriors closed, winning 119-113.

It wasn’t too impressive, but it counted in the standings. The win lifted their record to 27-26, seventh-best in the West, and dropped the Mavericks to 28-26, sixth-best in the West. Nine conference teams have either 26 or 27 losses. The fourth and 12th seeds are only separated by three games.

This raises the stakes for every conference game as the season nears its stretch. The Warriors have just 29 games left to play. They will face the Thunder on Monday at Chase Center and the Blazers on Wednesday in Portland. Oklahoma City is 12th and Portland 11th. But both are just one game down the Warriors’ loss column.

If Curry misses those games, Poole likely takes his place in the starting lineup. If Curry can play, Poole comes off the bench. After a nine-game short-ball experience, Kerr returned to Draymond Green and Looney starting together.

Against the Mavericks, this roster – Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Green and Looney – beat Dallas 32-23 in 11 minutes together. That makes them a cumulative plus-145 in 331 minutes together this season, the second-highest of any five-player roster in the league. Only Denver’s starting lineup has outplayed its opponents more.

“I’ll come back to that,” Kerr said. “We looked at the smaller roster well – I think it was nine games – and just concluded that our best bet is to start the bigger roster. We know this five-man unit is either the No. 1 or No. 2 roster in the NBA. And that is with a large sample size. We love this unit and feel like our bench is playing better now. We have more continuity now.

Looney’s return to the starting lineup opens up a rotation spot for JaMychal Green, who said he was frustrated when Kerr came to him before he got small and told him rotation dominoes meant he would be outside night image. But he played well in spurts over the past two weeks and had his best game of the season against the Mavericks, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks in a tough 16 minutes.

“JaMychal was probably our player of the match,” Kerr said.

Kerr also went to Ty Jerome in the first half, extending his rotation to 10 men, cutting Curry and Draymond Green’s minutes. Draymond Green missed the previous game with a calf tightness and was questionable for Saturday before getting the go-ahead.

“I’m concerned about the overall minutes in the last 10 games for Steph and Draymond,” Kerr said. “They were slowly coming up, and I felt like tonight we wanted to make sure we cut their two minutes as much as possible.”

Draymond Green played 32 minutes. Curry was 26 minutes into the game when he left with the lower leg injury that became the biggest news of Saturday’s game.

(Photo: Cary Edmondson/USA Today)


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