Steve Kerr defends Stephen Curry's low minutes total after loss

MINNEAPOLIS — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry watched from the bench as his team took blow after blow from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter of their eventual 114-110 loss on Sunday night.

He was ready and expected to return, but was left on the bench for 11 straight minutes.

After exiting the game with four minutes left in the third quarter, Curry didn't re-enter until just over six minutes into the fourth quarter. It gave them a push, but the damage was already done.

“I want to play as many minutes as I can when I'm fresh and able to, so I'm a bit short [surprised] “They knew they were making a run,” said Curry, who ended up playing just 30 minutes. “Our lead was disappearing.”

Curry scored 31 points on 9-of-21 shooting in 30 minutes, including five 3-pointers. Golden State's score was plus 6 in the minutes Curry was on the court, and minus 10 when he wasn't.

But Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn't willing to blame this latest loss on Curry's minutes.

“We can't expect Steve to ride game by game,” Kerr said. “We've put the burden of this franchise on his shoulders for 15 years. We can't expect him to play 35 minutes… If you want to say he played 30 minutes instead of 32, that's the difference between winning and losing.” “Forfeit, I'm totally fine with that. We're trying to win the game. We're trying to keep him fresh, too.”

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Against the Indiana Pacers on Friday — a game in which the Warriors struggled to find any urgency or connection — Curry played 35 minutes, including the entire fourth quarter.

“I played the whole fourth quarter against Indiana and it didn't work, it didn't work [against Minnesota]. “We have to find somewhere in the middle,” Curry said.

He added: “The situation will determine itself in real time. Every game is important because we are getting close to the other end of the standings which we never thought we would reach. No one is going to wave the white flag and say we will mail it in. If that means playing more minutes, I will be ready to do it.” “With that.”

Just two weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors were eager to make it out of the tournament to secure themselves a top-six finish. But now, as Carey hinted, their hopes of just a top 10 seed are hanging by a thread. They sit one game back of the Houston Rockets — one of the hottest teams in the league right now, riding an eight-game winning streak.

Golden State is two games behind the Los Angeles Lakers in ninth place.

Earlier in the week, Curry said he didn't care much about where the Warriors finished in the playoff race, just that they spent the last set of regular-season games building habits that will allow them to survive and advance to the playoffs.

“What Steve is saying is if we don't build habits, it doesn't matter,” Kerr said. “You play it, you don't do it. If you don't have the habits you won't go anywhere.”

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Before Sunday's game, the biggest habits that needed fixing were energy and focus. Those were the most problematic in transition defense, shot selection, physicality, and communication against the Pacers.

They all fall under what the Warriors classify as “stays” — where someone doesn’t crash the boards or quickly retreat to defend. Instead, they just stand there.

The Warriors feel their habits have improved a lot against the Timberwolves. Kerr went so far as to say that if his team competes like they did in Minnesota over the last 12 games, they will put themselves in a position to do something.

There is one caveat: improvement did not lead to victory. For that reason, Draymond Green said Sunday's performance shouldn't serve as a glimmer of hope.

“We keep losing,” Green said. “This is not encouraging.”

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