Steve Kerr defends Steph Curry’s decision making on final possession vs. Kings

The Sacramento Kings were playing defense, so Jonathan Kuminga got a free lane to the hoop when he received the ball just past halfcourt. After he put the ball on the deck with a head of steam, the Kings were unable to stop him because he had spent the entire night in the paint. He was too strong, fast, and cunning. Also, Kuminga had already surpassed his previous career high of 31 points.

But when the game is on the line, can a 21-year-old bench player genuinely look off an all-time great? It’s difficult to hold Kuminga accountable because he didn’t believe that. Rather than making a strong run for the basket, Kuminga took two deep dribbles before passing the ball to Stephen Curry.

Golden State’s last-second “shot” is a high pick-and-roll with the floor spread wide, a move that Curry and Draymond Green have made countless times in the closing seconds of game-winning situations. They have witnessed almost as much of the Kings’ defensive strategy, which has bigger, more disruptive defenders than De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Huerter chasing the ball. With four seconds remaining, Sacramento trapped Curry in a 4-on-3 situation, but Curry chose to hold onto the game under the tremendous pressure.

Instead of giving Golden State an exciting victory at home against its rivals in Northern California, Curry let it slip away—literally. As he attempted to step back for a game-winning triple over two defenders, he lost possession of the ball, and the Kings won an exciting 134-133.

Warriors’ deference to Steph Curry dooms final possession vs. Kings

When Steve Kerr stood at the postgame podium, he had not watched a replay of his team’s unsuccessful last-minute possession. He praised Kuminga for yet another outstanding effort, tacitly justifying the third-year wing’s decision to not attack the hoop before passing the ball to Curry. When Kevin Huerter made an astonishing second straight miss at the free throw line, Klay Thompson stopped him, but the Dubs didn’t use their one remaining timeout. However, he later acknowledged that there might have been a better time to do so.

In the huddle, could the Warriors have devised a much different play than the one that Curry ultimately failed to execute? When the game was close, Kerr was happy with Golden State’s decision-making. Even with years of experience in nearly identical situations, Curry failed to deliver the goods when the Dubs most needed him.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time and those guys know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish,” Kerr told ClutchPoints of the Warriors’ last possession. “Like I said, you get the defense scattered…Maybe the time to take the timeout would’ve been earlier when we didn’t have the spacing—maybe 12, 13 seconds left. But once we got the ball out to Steph and Draymond stepped into the pick-and-roll, I like that picture, and that’s kind of what we’ve done for a long time. Like I said, [the Kings] made a great defensive play and they deserve the win.”

On Thursday night, Curry scored 33 points, the most of which were in spectacular way as Mike Brown’s squad sold everything to stop him. In comparable circumstances, he has made more tough shots than the one he failed to make before the buzzer went off.

But when Thompson gathered Huerter’s miss and Golden State elected not to call time, everyone in Chase Center, even the ten players on the floor, knew precisely where the ball was headed. In response, the Kings blew up the fundamental strategy that Golden State has been using for ten years in the clutch.

The Warriors made the proper decision by not calling a timeout. Perhaps the following time, with Thursday’s devastating loss fresh in their minds, they won’t be so cripplingly submissive to the best player in club history that they play a game-winning possession as it arises.





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