The Golden State Warriors have struggled to stay afloat this season. Injuries to Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins put an end to some of their progress, but even since the two returned they were still not the team many of them expected.
The Warriors, who have lost six of their last nine games, are currently 23-24 on the season, good for 10th in the Western Conference rankings. Their Jan. 22 loss to the Brooklyn Nets was particularly embarrassing as they gambled away a 17-point lead. After the game, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn spoke about the fight between Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving.
“It’s just, how can you not be a fan of basketball? It’s a great game,” Vaughn said via the team’s official YouTube channel. “Incredible athletes. Two of the best athletes in their positions trying to bring victory to their team. And so I think it brings out the best in all truly competitive athletes. That’s one of the special things about this game. I talk about it all the time, is able to look over [to] the guy you are up against and try to win against him.
Curry and Irving developed quite a rivalry over the years. They met three straight years in the NBA Finals, with Curry winning two of the three and Irving winning the 2016 NBA Championship by leading Curry and the Warriors’ 73-9 season.
In their January 22 matchup, both players led their teams in scoring. Curry finished the game with 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists on 7 of 16 shots from the field and 4 of 8 shots from behind the three-point line. Meanwhile, Irving had 38 points, seven boards and nine assists on 12-of-22 shots from the field and 5-of-7 shots from three-point range.
Golden State couldn’t maintain their lead against Brooklyn, allowing for an impressive comeback for Irving and the Nets. After the contest, Irving sent a powerful message about what it’s like to play the Warriors at their new home ground in San Francisco.
“In terms of going up against the Warriors and being out here, it’s amazing to see the change here in San Francisco,” the Nets star said via the team’s official YouTube channel. “I’m so used to going to Oakland to play the Warriors, but I still feel the same appreciation from the fans here. They still have championship fans. They expect a great product out there, they have great players. So I never take it for granted when I play here in this amazing arena, this new arena. I look forward to it in the future.”
Meanwhile, Curry was very upset after the Warriors’ loss to the Nets. During his post-game press conference, he stressed the importance of Golden State making changes and turning the season around.
“Losing sucks no matter the reason” Curry said on NBC Sports Bay Area. “Losing is a terrible feeling and we hate it. Being 23-24 halfway through the season, we’ve seen a lot of that. So we need to bottle it up and do something about it. I feel like no one is letting go of the rope, no one is thinking we can’t make it. That too is our challenge, not to get into the situation where we explain every other night why we didn’t get the job done.”