The over-arching storyline form the Golden State Warriors‘ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night was obviously the season-ending injury that Kobe Bryant suffered. Bryant’s injury rocked the NBA world for valid reasons. However, one of the things that has been overlooked because of that injury is how poorly the Warriors played in that fourth quarter.
Coming into the fourth quarter, the Warriors held a five-point lead over L.A. and Stephen Curry had already lit-up the Lakers for 39 points. He was absolutely scoring at will for the first three quarters of the game and it was a thing of beauty to watch. The problem is that all went away in the fourth quarter.
Curry took just four shots in the entire fourth quarter, meaning he took less attempts than both Klay Thompson and David Lee and the same amount of attempts as Carl Landry. That’s not a knock on those players, but when Curry was playing as well as he had for the first three quarters, the ball should have been in his hands way more than it was.
For the game Curry had a usage percentage of 32.7 percent, which is relatively high, but not in the context of how dominant he was playing. In the fourth quarter, though, his usage percentage was just 17.7 percent, only the fourth highest percentage on his team. He was rarely touching the ball and most of the possessions seemed to be going through Thompson instead of Curry.
It’s unclear whether this was the fault of Thompson, Curry or head coach Mark Jackson, but the fact is that can’t happen down the stretch of a close game for Golden State. There’s no question that Curry is their leader, both emotionally and with his play. He creates so many offensive opportunities with the ball in his hands. The fact that the Warriors went away from him is troubling.
As the Warriors head into the playoffs, their fourth quarter performance from the Lakers game can’t be duplicated. They have to rely on Curry to get their offense going and Jackson has to make sure that his team knows that. Curry has been the key to the majority of this team’s success this season. When they go away from him in crunch time, bad things are likely going to happen.