HIGHLIGHTS: Jackson's Warriors can't contain LeBron
Stephen Curry stood in the hallway outside the Warriors’ locker room after the game without a noticeable limp, without noticeable worry.
The Golden State star guard did not play due to a sprained right ankle in a 92-75 dismantling at the hands of the visiting Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
After the game, Curry said there was no possibility that he was going to be able to play against the Heat on the ankle that he injured Wednesday morning at shootaround when he crossed paths with Festus Ezeli on a loose ball during a drill.
“No chance,” Curry said. “Hopefully that’s not a bad sign because usually when I’ve sprained it before it’s been a keep-playing kind of a situation or I bounce back fairly quickly. But after six hours of icing it all afternoon it just didn’t have a shot tonight.”
Standing in the hallway, in the same dark blue suit that he sat in during the game, Curry said his ankle was sore, the same sensation that any player would feel after spraining an ankle.
“Obviously I have a history with it, so it’s going to be a bigger thing than normal,” said Curry, who had played in each of the Warriors’ 36 games prior to Wednesday. “But right now it feels just like anybody who sprained an ankle the way I did it. Just got to wait and see how it recovers.”
Curry was listed as a game-time decision but did not take part in routine pregame shooting. The team’s star has had two surgeries on the right ankle in each of the last two offseasons. Curry is averaging 20.5 points and 6.6 assists per game this season, his most productive season as a pro.
Curry said he will travel with the team for its back-to-back road set at the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and New Orleans Hornets on Saturday.
“I will let my ankle speak for itself,” Curry said. “I’ve been through this plenty of times and I know that if I can have complete strength in all the tests we do and no soreness, that will be my two guidelines. Hopefully that happens quicker than later.”
But on Wednesday against the defending world champs, not even Curry could have swung this one the other way.
“A lot of people are going to point to Steph being out or whatever the case may be,” said Jarrett Jack, who started in Curry’s place and led the Warriors in scoring with 16 points. “Obviously we would love to have him in the lineup, but no one person is going to be able to save the way we’ve been playing the past couple of games.”
Golden State (23-14) has now lost four of its last five during this difficult stretch against playoff-quality opponents. The loss was revenge for the Warriors’ last-second win at Miami on Dec. 12.
The Heat led the entire game, leading at halftime 52-38 and 80-50 at the end of the third quarter. The Warriors shot just 36.3 percent on the night.
The Warriors certainly missed the guard leadership of Curry. Miami (25-12) is too talented to be given easy baskets and, without Curry, the starting backcourt of Jack and Klay Thompson combined for nine of the team’s 21 turnovers. The Heat scored 22 points off turnovers.
“One thing I told them was that they made a heck of a case for Stephen Curry to be in the All-Star Game,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “If we can go from a top-notch team to the team that played tonight just missing one guy, that says a lot about him.”
David Lee tallied a double-double on 12 points and 11 rebounds. Golden State did beat the Heat in the rebounding battle, 52-51. It was the first time the Warriors outrebounded an opponent at home and still lost.
Two-for-one milestone night
Meanwhile, it was a historic night for LeBron James, who became the youngest player in NBA history to surpass 20,000 points when he connected on a jumper at the 2:45 mark of the second quarter, his 19th point of the game.
“It means a lot,” James said. “First of all, it means that I’ve been able to be healthy and be out on the floor and be able to do what I love to do. I love the game of basketball and I try to give everything to the game and hopefully it continues to give back to me.”
James, who finished with 25 points and 10 assists, hit two milestones on the night, as he also recorded assist No. 5,000 in the first quarter on an assist to Dwyane Wade. James, at 28 years and 17 days, surpassed the previous youngest player to reach the mark, Kobe Bryant, who scored his 20,000th point at 29 years, 122 days.
More on Curry’s injury
Prior to the ankle injury, the concern had surrounded Curry’s knee that was injured on Sunday at the Denver Nuggets. Curry said his knee is all right, but that he was never able to truly test it before the ankle injury.
“I think that might have been a blessing in disguise,” Curry said. “I was really going to try to push it to play through that. I didn’t really have a chance to test it out. That’s why I was chasing down a loose ball in shootaround just to give my knee a shot and let me know how it felt.
“I was kind of going a little overboard with my intensity this morning. I don’t know how it would have responded to be honest with you. I’ve got a couple more days to figure that out too.”
Jackson, prior to Wednesday night’s game, did more to describe the moment that Curry’s ankle was sprained: “It was really a freak injury where he sprained his ankle. We don’t do much in shootaround – just chasing after a loose rebound. It’s unfortunate. We will shut him down tonight; he’ll get treatment and see where he goes.”
The Warriors coach added: “I’m not a doctor, but I cant imagine it turning into something more. I’m not going to get into timetables and all of that – we’re not concerned.”
Truth be told tweet
@Kaeper_Nick: “The hopes of the Warriors franchise relies on ankles (Bogut, Curry) #warriorstalk”
A play emblematic of the night
Kent Bazemore missed a wide-open, one-handed dunk in the third quarter. It wouldn’t have counted either way, as fellow rookie Draymond Green was charged with an offensive foul for what looked like a lead block on James from challenging the play.
Bazemore received 18 minutes in the loss, scoring six points on 1-for-7 shooting and tallying five assists.