Steph Curry is emotional about beating the Magic after an early Draymond Green ejection

Orlando, Fla. – After Steph Curry hit a dagger 3 and finally finished around the Orlando Magic arena, taunting the home crowd with his signature “night night” celebration, he marched through his teammates and found the nearest open chair on the bench. . Then he karate-kicks it, an emotional expression that Curry described as “letting off a little steam.” It rocked Trace Jackson-Davis and Andrew Wiggins.

“But emotions were high,” Wiggins said. “I feel like he could have done anything.”

Curry is trying to save this Golden State Warriors season from death. They hold the 10th seed, battle the surging Houston Rockets, and battle for the right to play two elimination games to sneak into the eighth seed. Three weeks from now, with the playoffs on the brink, nothing could feel more incongruous than a 101-93 win over the exiled team in late March.

But it felt like it Everything For the Warriors on Wednesday night, it was a fight against everything that led to this tumultuous season.

Draymond Green's combo suspensions in the early months are partially responsible for the 19-24 spins. Green's return jump-started them back into the playoff picture. He fixed their defense, opened up all their best line combinations and proved again why he should be on the floor.

But in their most consecutive game to date, Green entered the official Ray Acosta at the 8:50 mark of the first quarter. He refused a call and continued arguing after the next whistle. Acosta hit him with the first technical. Continue green. Acosta walked toward the scorer's table. Continue green.

Green finally started to walk away, but muttered one final word. Acosta felt it was enough to knock him out of the game before the four minutes were up. The group's chairman, Mitchell Erwin, called the pool report a “prolonged diatribe” containing “extremely defamatory language.” Green did not speak to reporters.

The post-elimination frustration was very evident on Curry's face. His The red-eyed chick went viral. Green hasn't picked up a flagrant foul since his return in January. He has been excluded from the league's crosshairs. Steve Kerr praised him earlier this week for his mature approach. But part of his internal return agreement, As Kerr describedHe vowed not to let his interactions with officials affect his ability on the floor or distract his team from the bigger task at hand — winning.

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But that's exactly what happened against the Magic. On the second night back without Jonathan Cuminga, who missed the game with knee tendinitis, the Warriors were without Green, their emotional engine and back-line defender, against a playoff team that entered the game 25-10. at home.

“I would say we need him,” Curry said postgame. “He knows that. We all know that. So whatever it takes for him to be on the floor and available, that's what needs to happen. Especially at this point in the year.”

Kerr summed up his post-match reaction: “Too bad. This is unfortunate. He deserves it. He'll bounce back.” Later, asked if this had shattered any recently built trust, he quickly replied, “No.”

Green is receiving waves of criticism for making the Warriors vulnerable again in his absence. It could have tripled if they had lost. Curry couldn't hide his frustration on the court and didn't try to hide it much after the game.

But another influential member of the organization struck a sober tone in the tunnel postgame when discussing the reality of the situation: “What? Did we really expect him not to be kicked out again?”

Broader point: Green should minimize the size and ferocity of outbreaks as much as possible; Coaches and players (especially former players) should do a better job of pulling him out of the fray when the red light flashes; And – most importantly – this group must respond better when forced into unavoidable adverse situations.

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That's what made Wednesday night's win all the more meaningful. After Green disappeared, the Warriors had their best defensive quarter of the season, holding the Magic to 11 points on 3-22 shooting.

Started at Jackson-Davis Center. That pick, in part, is what the Warriors hope is to see the two bigs in the lineup next to Green, who could be their frontcourt duo of the future. But without Green, Jackson-Davis was a force in a big appearance against one of the NBA's longest teams.

Jackson-Davis had 14 rebounds. Kevon Looney scored seven in 15 minutes off the bench and entered Green's remaining minutes. Brandin Podzimski had nine. The Warriors outshot the Magic 52-39, and in fact Moses Moody stepped in for Green after he was ejected and played 24 minutes, Kerr said, having the biggest rebound of the night.

In a moment when the Magic felt the momentum had gathered, Moody soared for a rebound in traffic late in the third quarter, then found Klay Thompson for an open 3.

But no one got the postgame accolades that Wiggins did. Wiggins scored 13 fourth-quarter points, hitting a variety of tough shots over Jonathan Isaac's slick defense and picking the Warriors apart in big moments. It was needed. Curry was cold for most of the night, finishing with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Wiggins pushed them over the finish line with his 23.

“He took over that whole fourth quarter,” Curry said. “We ran the offense through him.”

That's how much this team needs That Continue Wiggins?

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“It's no secret. We talk about it all the time,” Curry said. “It's a different element and level for this team when he plays like that. When teams pass the kitchen sink to me — front line safety, second line safety — when you put the ball in his hands and he plays … he won the game for us tonight.

It was an important variable in the Draymond conversation. They didn't lose. As one player put it, getting past the first-quarter Green exit was easier on the outside world and inside the locker room because — in the cold decision-based reality of the sports world — it cost them nothing. They won the game. Green returns to Charlotte on Friday.

“Even tonight I talked to him several times,” Curry said. “I will continue to talk to him. As a teammate and a friend, that's what I have to do.

(Photo of Stephen Curry celebrating the win with guard Klay Thompson: Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today)

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